The doctor who led UT Southwestern’s program for transgender youth is taking her employer to court to find out why the hospital abruptly cut care for new patients last year.
In a petition filed in Dallas County court on Wednesday, Dr. Ximena Lopez said UT Southwestern’s decision to halt certain gender-affirming health care provided by the Genecis program violates the university’s nondiscrimination policy and keeps her from treating patients according to her independent medical judgment.
Genecis, a seven-year-old program run by UT Southwestern and Children’s Health, was unique in Texas and the only program created specifically to provide gender-affirming care to minors in the region. The hospitals quietly cut off certain treatments to new patients in November.
“That edict is patently prohibited discrimination. It is illegal,” the petition reads. “It potentially exposes Dr. Lopez to legal liability. The only question is: who is dictating this illegal policy and why?”
The court filing, known as a 202 petition, allows attorneys and their clients to investigate claims before filing a lawsuit. It marks the first time one of the program’s leaders has pushed back in such a public way against the university’s decision to close Genecis to new patients.
Lopez’s lawyer provided a copy of the petition exclusively to The Dallas Morning News.
Lopez is asking the university and Children’s Health to turn over documents, including communications that might show pressure from elected officials triggered the changes at Genecis, and wants top officials to sit for depositions. The petition notes the information sought will allow Lopez to decide if and against whom she files a lawsuit seeking to overturn the university’s decision to cut off care to new transgender patients.
Lopez told The News she tried everything should could, including getting medical groups to urge the hospitals to restore care, before filing the petition. She said her requests that university leadership meet with physicians and patients affected by the change were denied.
Lopez told The News she believes UT Southwestern changed the Genecis program because of political pressure and said while she respects the university, she understands she may be putting her job on the line.
“I would like to think an institution as renowned and as well-respected as UTSW would not bow to such pressure, but reality tells me to be afraid of retaliation. Instead of standing up for what is right and being true to the values of this institution and our obligations as physicians, they got rid of the clinic that was causing them trouble with extremists and politicians. Therefore, they could also try to get rid of me,” Lopez said.
In her petition, Lopez said UT Southwestern told her “either the governor or the governor’s office has exerted political pressure on [UT Southwestern] to close the
Genecis clinic and to stop clinicians from providing gender-affirming care.”
Among those she wants questioned on the record are UT Southwestern President Dr. Daniel Podolsky and UT Southwestern University Hospitals CEO Dr. John Warner.
See here for the background. I don’t know that anything Dr. Lopez does can overturn this decision, but I appreciate the fight. At the very least I hope we learn more about what happened. All respect to you, Dr. Ximena Lopez.