On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit on behalf of three families challenging Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent call for the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate parents who provide gender-affirming healthcare to transgender kids and their there to block the state from investigating members of PFLAG.
The lawsuit cites a particularly disturbing case in which a transgender boy whose family was reported to the state’s DFPS by hospital staff after he was admitted for attempting suicide after he took a bottle of aspirin.
According to the lawsuit, 16-year-old Antonio Voe “said that the political environment, including Abbott’s Letter, and being misgendered at school, led him to take these actions.” When hospital staff learned he had been receiving hormone therapy, they reported his family to the DFPS.
As the Texas Tribune reports, nine Texas families are currently under investigation for providing gender-affirming care to their children. One family named in the lawsuit has been outspoken in their opposition to Abbott’s directive.
In April last year, Amber Briggle, the mother of a transgender boy, testified before the Texas legislature against S.B. 1646, which would have redefined child abuse under state law to include “consenting to or assisting in the administering or supplying of, a puberty suppression prescription drug or cross-sex hormone to a child,” as well as other gender-affirming health care procedures.
“I’m terrified to be here today,” Briggle told the Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs. “I’m afraid that by speaking here today that my words will be used against me should S.B. 1646 or S.B. 1311 pass, and my sweet son whom I love more than life itself will be taken from me.”
“If this bill becomes law, that, senators, is child abuse,” she concluded. “And I promise I will call every single one of you every time a transgender child dies from suicide to remind you that their lives could have been saved, but you chose not to.”
S.B. 1646 and S.B. 1311 were later defeated, but DFPS investigations of the families of trans youth have continued.
“For nearly 50 years, PFLAG parents have united against government efforts to harm their LGBTQ+ kids,” PFLAG National executive director Brian K. Bond told the Tribune. “By going after trans kids and their families, Gov. Abbott has picked a fight with thousands of families in Texas and across the country who are united as members of PFLAG National.”
In February, Abbott issued a letter to state agencies directing them to report the parents of transgender children for supposed child abuse after Texas attorney general Ken Paxton issued a non-binding opinion stating that gender-affirming health care for transgender youth is a form of child abuse.