AUSTIN (KXAN) — For the first time, people had a chance to share their opposition directly to the agency tasked with carrying out Gov. Greg Abbott’s order about transgender health care investigations.
For almost six hours Friday, more than 80 speakers addressed the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Council, a nine-member body that helps to develop rules and policies for the agency. Most of the remarks featured statements shared by families with transgender children but voiced by volunteers and LGBTQ+ activists, because they said they felt too terrified to speak to the agency in person.
All of these comments came before a Travis County district judge granted an injunction that blocked child abuse investigations into the families of trans kids in Texas. Judge Amy Clark Meachum listened to arguments Friday on whether to temporarily halt Child Protective Services’ investigations into these parents. After hours of arguments, Meachum approved the injunction, which stops the investigations into families providing care for their trans children.
This ruling will undoubtedly provide some comfort for Heather Crawford. She was the only mother Friday who chose not to use a proxy to deliver her remarks to the DFPS council members. She said she wanted to share a dark story about almost losing her child.
“When my child came out to us as trans, we did not react well, and we did not affirm their identity,” Crawford said in her remarks. “After several months of my failure to give my child the support and care that they needed, I came home from work one day to find them unconscious on their bed having overdosed on all of their psych medications.”
Crawford also read aloud the note her child left before the attempted suicide, which she said her child asked her to do at Friday’s meeting. When she did that, it appeared one of the council members, Cortney Jones, began to wipe away tears with a tissue.
“This is what happens when trans children are not given the affirming care that is their God-given right,” Crawford said. “After their suicide attempt, we realized we had made a critical mistake in not providing them with gender-affirming care and immediately rectified it, and today, they are happy, thriving and living in the world as their authentic self.”
Last month Abbott directed the department to investigate any families whose children receive gender-transitioning treatments. His letter followed a non-binding legal opinion from Attorney General Ken Paxton describing the care as “child abuse.”
On Friday DFPS confirmed there are now nine investigations opened into families for providing gender-affirming care as a result of Paxton releasing his legal opinion. An agency spokesperson wrote in a statement, “We have not and are not planning to create a new category for intakes on transgender children. If an intake comes in, it will be put into one of the 5 existing statutory categories: physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, medical neglect.”
The council meeting Friday wrapped without the DFPS commissioner, Jaime Masters, or any of the other members commenting specifically about the governor’s directive about transgender care. The members in attendance told KXAN they simply cannot offer any comment.
Speakers said they hoped their, at-times, emotional testimony would alter what the agency’s leaders decide to do with their investigatory resources moving forward.
“I hope they fulfill their obligations to the children of Texas,” Crawford said, “and turn their attention and their resources to the children who are actually in danger, who need to be rescued from dangerous situations and stop persecuting the children who are actually doing really, really well, because they are receiving the care that they need. They’re getting what they need from their parents.”