Attorney General Ken Paxton filed for an appeal Thursday after a state judge blocked Texas’ child protection agency from investigating the parents of a transgender teenager who received gender-affirming medical care.
District Judge Amy Clark Meachum had granted a temporary restraining order on Wednesday. It did not stop the agency from opening investigations into other families in similar situations.
Meachum was scheduled to consider issuing a statewide injunction blocking such investigations into all parents of trans children on March 11, but that hearing has been put on hold until an appeals court rules on Paxton’s request.
And U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said his agency is looking into tools that would shield transgender Texans from the state’s attempts to hinder access to gender-affirming care.
“The Texas government’s attacks against transgender youth and those who love and care for them are discriminatory and unconscionable,” he said. “These actions are clearly dangerous to the health of transgender youth in Texas.”
Becerra released guidance Wednesday that says refusing health care because of gender identity is illegal and that health care providers are not required to disclose information regarding gender-affirming care.
President Joe Biden also released a statement Wednesday condemning Texas’ actions.
“This is government overreach at its worst,” Biden said in a statement. “Like so many anti-transgender attacks proliferating in states across the country, the Governor’s actions callously threaten to harm children and their families just to score political points. These actions are terrifying many families in Texas and beyond. And they must stop.”
See here for the background. This is primarily about preventing Judge Meachum from being able to issue a statewide injunction, since the hearing for that action is on hold pending the appeal. The Third Court is more likely than not to deny Paxton’s appeal, but then he’ll go to the Supreme Court, and who knows how long that could take. And delay is good enough for Paxton and Abbott and their wicked aims.
Texas Children’s Hospital has “paused” hormone-related prescription therapies for gender-affirming care in response to the controversial directive from state leaders to investigate medical treatments for transgender youth as child abuse, according to a statement from the hospital.
“The mission of Texas Children’s Hospital is to create a healthier future for all children, including transgender children, within the bounds of the law,” the statement reads. “After assessing the Attorney General’s and Governor’s actions, Texas Children’s Hospital paused hormone-related prescription therapies for gender-affirming services. This step was taken to safeguard our healthcare professionals and impacted families from potential criminal legal ramifications.”
Lou Weaver, a transgender man and community advocate for transgender children and adults, said very few facilities offer gender-affirming care for children, and Texas Children’s is among the biggest programs in Texas that offered it.
“This is a truly frightening time for trans youth and their parents and guardians,” he said. “The doors to life-saving health care are literally being shut in their faces.”
UT Southwestern’s children’s hospital in Dallas shut down services for new patients at the end of the last legislative session due to political pressure, Weaver said.
I can’t blame Texas Children’s for not wanting to risk the legal exposure, but this is truly harmful and there’s not a clear endpoint. That harm is also financial for the families involved. I don’t know what the feds can do, but they need to figure it out quickly.
And in what may be the most infuriating but least surprising part of this, the opinion Paxton issued was based on misreading studies and making false claims.
One researcher said Paxton distorted her work for political purposes and that she’s “mortified” her research was included in the opinion.
Alexandra Minna Stern, a professor of history at the University of Michigan, studies the history of forced sterilization in the United States. Paxton’s office drew a parallel between forced sterilization and gender affirmation surgeries for minors. “I’m adamantly opposed to this interpretation and it does not align with my research and the conclusions of my research,” she said.
“If they knew anything about my scholarship more generally, they would know that I am someone whose research demonstrates the harm of the very types of policies they’re trying to enact on marginalized people.”
In his opinion, Paxton cited the work of Dr. Cecilia Dhejne, a Stockholm-based researcher, to support the idea that gender-affirming health care could be harmful to transgender children.
Dhejne led a 2011 study that found that transgender people who have undergone gender-affirmation surgery have worse mental health outcomes than the general population. Dhejne did not respond to a request for comment. However, in the text of the 2011 study, Dhejne and her team caution specifically against using the study to conclude that gender-affirming surgery is problematic, noting that the study did not compare the mental health outcomes of people before and after gender-affirming surgery.
The study’s “results should not be interpreted such as sex reassignment per se increases morbidity and mortality. Things might have been even worse without sex reassignment,” the study says.
Dhejne and her colleagues wrote instead that the study shows a need for better support for transgender people after they undergo surgery.
Paxton also asserts that there has been a recent “spike” in minors receiving gender-affirming “procedures.” He cited the Society for Evidence Based Gender Medicine, an anti-trans advocacy group.
The link in Paxton’s citation leads to a graph showing an increase in youth referrals to the United Kingdom’s Gender Identity Development Service. That national clinic provides a range of care, including counseling; the number of clinic referrals is not necessarily the number of medical interventions like the legal opinion implies.
Similarly, Paxton’s opinion cited the World Professional Association for Transgender Health and said that transgender people should typically be adults before receiving the listed types of gender-affirming care.
In a statement to the Star-Telegram, WPATH said that Paxton applied the citation too broadly. While WPATH does state in its standards of care that genital surgery should typically wait until a transgender person reaches the age of majority, Paxton’s opinion applied that standard to less-invasive interventions, too, including puberty blockers.
“It’s disheartening to see the Texas Attorney General’s opinion referencing WPATH to bolster an overall argument completely at odds with WPATH guidance,” the organization said in a written statement. “The citation is accurate but does not apply here because the AG’s opinion is arguing against reversible blockers while the cited WPATH content relates to gender affirming surgery.”
There’s a lot more and you should read the rest, but you get the idea. Lying has never bothered Ken Paxton. It’s serving him pretty well right now. The Statesman has more.