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NACC Joins Brief Opposing Child Abuse Investigations for Children Receiving Gender-Affirming Care

Thursday September 22, 2022

Abbott v. Doe

In February 2022, Texas Attorney General Paxton issued a legal opinion indicating that certain “‘sex change’ procedures and treatments . . . when performed on children, can legally constitute child abuse under . . . the Texas Family Code.” In response, Texas Governor Gregory Abbott directed the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to investigate any report of a child receiving gender-affirming care. DFPS complied with the directive. Arguing violations of the Texas Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and Article II of the Texas Constitution, a transgender youth, their parents, and a doctor who treats children diagnosed with gender dysphoria filed suit against the Governor, the DFPS Commissioner, and DFPS seeking declaratory and injunctive relief.

NACC, along with several nonprofit organizations, filed an amicus brief urging the Third Court of Appeals to affirm the district court’s order prohibiting those investigations. First, amici argue that gender-affirming care does not meet the well-defined definition of child abuse as there is no risk of harm or injury to the child. To the contrary, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and other medical experts have concluded that gender-affirming care (i.e., treatment for gender dysphoria) can be medically necessary as it “improves the health and life outcomes of gender-expansive youth.” Second, amici contend that if parents do not comply with “well established, accepted standards of medical care” for fear of being investigated by DFPS and having their children removed, they are engaging in medical neglect which can negatively affect the child’s mental and physical health. On the other hand, parents who consent to gender-affirming care face “unwarranted investigations” and “unnecessary removals” which traumatize the entire family, especially LGBTQ youth who are placed in foster care. Lastly, amici assert that “[n]either the Governor nor the Attorney General is qualified to direct DFPS’s investigatory activity” and that DFPS should not enforce the governor’s directive. Thus, they urge the Third Court of Appeals to affirm the district court’s issuance of the injunction. A decision is currently pending before the Third Court of Appeals.

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