Texas Governor Greg Abbott is being sued for allegedly violating the constitutional rights of transgender children and their parents by enacting measures that would make gender reassignment treatments for adolescents a criminal activity.
Bloomberg reports that the lawsuit stemmed from a letter Mr Abbott wrote to Texas’s child-welfare agency asking it to treat parents who are seeking gender-affirmation treatments for their children as potential child abusers.
The lawsuit claims Mr Abbott is trying to “legislate by press release,” noting that state lawmakers rejected a law that would have had similar implications to the governor’s directive.
The American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal are the plaintiffs in the case.
According to the ACLU and Lambda Legal, Mr Abbott “trampled on the constitutional rights of transgender children, their parents, and professionals who provide vital care to transgender children.”
Mr Abbott’s letter is directing the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to probe “sex change” procedures for individuals under 18, including those that utilise surgeries or puberty-blocking drugs.
His directive also threatens medical workers and teachers with criminal liability for “failure to report such child abuse.”
Mr Abbott has made it clear he views gender-affirmation treatment for children as mistreatment, saying on Twitter that there “is no doubt” that such procedures are “child abuse” under Texas law.
Paul Castillo, Lambda Legal’s Senior Counsel, said Mr Abbott’s views were incongruent with reality.
“They are joining a politically motivated misinformation campaign with no consideration of medical science,” he said.
Adri Perez, a policy and advocacy strategist at the ACLU of Texas, said that “no family should have to fear being torn apart because they are supporting their trans child.”
Mr Abbott is facing a primary challenge, and has leaned hard into popular conservative culture war issues to shore up his support. Attacking the rights of trans individuals has proven popular among his conservative base.