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Texas Families Seek Lawyers After Anti-Trans Directive

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's directive to the state's child welfare agency to investigate parents of transgender children has sent parents scrambling for legal help to avoid the risk of losing custody, The Texas Tribune reports. Since Abbott's move in February, family lawyers specializing in LGBTQ rights say the fear of potential child abuse investigations of parents providing gender-affirming care to their children has been unlike anything they've seen. "I have never gotten this many phone calls or requests for consultations,” said lawyer Ian Pittman. “The number of people who have called has exponentially increased … and the common thread is that everybody feels terrorized.”

Under existing Child Protective Services policy, anyone can report child abuse and the state must investigate. This puts parents at risk of losing custody of their trans kids for following their doctor's recommendations. The majority of gender-affirming care focuses on "social transition," allowing the patient to express gender as they see fit. The most common medical procedure, puberty blockers, is completely reversible and used in a wide range of situations outside of trans care. The directive from Abbott called for CPS to investigate "any reported instances of these abusive procedures.” When a state judge on Wednesday intervened to stop an ongoing investigation into the parents of a 16-year-old transgender teen, the state appealed the case, staying the ruling until it can be evaluated by a higher court. Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights reported that hundreds of child welfare lawyers have stepped up to provide free or pro-bono representation for these families. “There is a palpable fear from parents who are afraid their kids are going to be taken away from them and they're going to be labeled as child abusers,” said attorney Derek Mergele-Rust. “If you're labeled as a child abuser and you are a licensed professional in the state of Texas, you can't do your job anymore … there are far-reaching consequences on parents’ lives, too.”


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