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Ken Paxton aims for Texas Supreme Court to decide if gender-affirming care is child abuse

Imposing new restrictions on transgender youth has emerged as a key political priority among Texas Republicans ahead of the March 1 primary election for which early voting began earlier this month.
Eric Gay
/
AP
Imposing new restrictions on transgender youth has emerged as a key political priority among Texas Republicans ahead of the March 1 primary election for which early voting began earlier this month.

Both Paxton and Abbott are running for reelection. Paxton is in a primary runoff against Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says he’s planning to take his legal battle to allow the state to investigate gender-affirming health care for transgender kids as “child abuse” to the all-Republican Texas Supreme Court.

A state appeals court on Wednesday rejected Paxton’s effort to overturn a lower court ruling that blocked Texas’ child welfare agency from proceeding with a child abuse investigation into the parents of a transgender teenager. The ruling allows a district court in Travis County to hold a hearing Friday to determine if all investigations should be halted statewide.

The Republican Attorney General said on the conservative AM talk radio program The Mark Davis Show Thursday he expects the court will rule against him.

"It's an Austin-based court, a more liberal version of a judge. So we're definitely going to appeal that and take it to the Texas Supreme Court. I have no doubt that the governor has the authority to do what he's doing," Paxton added.

Last month, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and other agencies to investigate reports of parents and health care professionals providing minors with certain gender-affirming medical treatments, such as puberty blockers and hormone therapy. The order came shortly after Attorney General Paxton issued a non-binding opinion declaring the health care to be child abuse.

Paxton defended his legal opinion, while on the Mark Davis Show, after facing criticism from a family who invited him to dinner in 2016 to meet their transgender son. That family says they are now under investigation.

“It’s ridiculous to say that meeting with anybody is going to change my view of what the law is. I have [to say] what the law is no matter what it is,” Paxton said.

Copyright 2022 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.

Joseph Leahy anchors morning newscasts for NPR's statewide public radio collaborative, The Texas Newsroom. He began his career in broadcast journalism as a reporter for St. Louis Public Radio in 2011. The following year, he helped launch Delaware's first NPR station, WDDE, as an afternoon newscaster and host. Leahy returned to St. Louis in 2013 to anchor local newscasts during All Things Considered and produce news on local and regional issues. In 2016, he took on a similar role as the local Morning Edition newscaster at KUT in Austin, before moving over to the Texas Newsroom.