It was a strange atmosphere of secrecy with emails and texts being discouraged. Trans kids were given elevated status for their allegations. Texas child welfare investigations rarely end in finding that harm likely occurred. This is classified as "reasonable belief" but Mulanax felt the changes would have been predetermined.
Mulanax stated that it was her understanding that they wanted to find'reasonable belief'. This interview was Mulanax's first since she left the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services where she had worked for six years before quitting last month. "That's why it was necessary to find a way to staff the department up and see how it goes about it, as it doesn't fit our policy at the moment."
The Texas Supreme Court could make a decision on Friday whether the state can continue at minimum nine investigations into parents of transgender children. These are the first child welfare officials to notice them since Texas' Republican governor, in February, directed the state that it begin treating reports of child abuse based on gender confirmation. This is the first such order in the U.S.
As Republicans around the country look to policies that target transgender Americans, including bans on transgender women on girls' sports teams, Texas is now in court. Texas is the only state in which a GOP governor has allowed abuse cases against parents of transgender kids. This has been criticized by several former and current Texas child welfare workers as it has led to a drop in morale at the troubled state agency.
It is not clear how many Texas child welfare inspectors, who are charged with following Abbott's directive, have quit. Mulanax is one among at least two state Child Protective Services employees who have resigned and were added to a briefing that asked Texas' justices not to end the investigations. Five other investigators from the agency signed on as well.
Abbott's instruction to Texas child welfare officers targets treatments for children who use hormone therapy and puberty blocking drugs.
Patrick Crimmins was a spokesperson for Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. He declined to comment on Thursday due to the ongoing lawsuit.
Shelby McCowen, a child welfare inspector, said that the directive was being closely monitored in these cases. She called it the "last straw" and quit the agency after less than one year.
According to state data, Texas has completed over 157,000 child welfare investigations during the past fiscal year. McCowen stated that cases involving transgender parents were getting the same attention as those involving child deaths investigations. He also said that instructions were not given to discuss cases via state email or phones.
McCowen stated that the cases would be called "special assignments" and not referred to by a case number or name. McCowen stated that upper managers had told investigators that a survey would be sent to them internally to answer questions about the directive. However, none of these surveys ever arrived.
She said, "I don’t know how often they go into these cases, but we are told that if one of these cases is received, the documentation must be almost instantaneous because it's being watched."
Abbott's directive is against the nation's biggest medical organizations, including the American Medical Association. These groups have opposed Republican-backed restrictions in statehouses across the country. Joe Biden, President of the United States, marked Transgender Day of Visibility on Thursday by condemning such legislation and saying, "The onslaught of antitransgender state laws attacking your family and you is simply wrong."
Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's office demanded that Texas' investigations be continued. He stated that "if DFPS can't investigate possible child abuse, then children might be harmed -- possibly irreversibly -- in this interim."
Mulanax stated that if investigations resumed, it was unlikely that any children would have to be taken from their homes in Texas' largest cities. These are all controlled by Democrats, and some county officials have already rejected such cases.
Mulanax stated that if there is a finding of danger Mulanax doesn't believe it makes sense to put in place other safety plans. Mulanax stated that these options usually include parental supervision or therapy. Mulanax acknowledged that some families may already be using such services.
She said, "It was just complete betrayal by the department."