Hospital told it can’t stop doctors from giving life-saving care to trans youth amid legal battle
A judge has ordered a prominent Texas children’s hospital to continue offering gender-affirming healthcare to new trans patients for at least a year.
Doctors at Children’s Medical Center Dallas have been fighting to treat trans youth after the hospital announced in it would stop taking new patients back in November.
Dallas County judge Melissa Bellan signed a temporary injunction Monday (23 May) against Children’s Medical Center Dallas which will allow doctors to continue taking young trans patients seeking gender-affirming treatment for the next year, the Dallas Morning News reported.
The injunction replaces a two-week temporary restraining order granted on 12 May and will stay in place until a trial, which is currently set for 18 April, 2023. At that time, a judge will decide if it should be made permanent.
The new injunction represents a huge win for doctors fighting to care for trans kids in Texas as it halts the hospital’s decision to stop providing certain gender-affirming treatments – such as puberty blockers and hormone therapy – to new trans patients while the legal battle continues.
Dr Ximena Lopez – who led the hospital’s GENECIS programme for trans and non-binary youth – began challenging the policy in March, wanting to restart the potentially life-saving medical care for new patients.
Lopez told Dallas Morning News that approximately 60 people called to schedule new appointments in the days since the restraining order was initiated. The doctor added the latest legal win represented how “justice” has been done for “these patients and families”.
“Life-saving care was taken away from them for no legitimate reason and with no reasonable alternative,” Lopez said. “It is unfair for patients and providers to have to go through litigation to fight for their right to receive and provide medical care, respectively.”
In November, Children’s Medical Center Dallas quietly scaled back the GENECIS programme, which it runs alongside UT Southwestern, by removing references to it from the internet. The programme said it would continue to provide trans healthcare treatments to existing patients, but it said new patients would be referred to other providers.
In March, UT Southwestern and Children’s Medical Center Dallas released a statement explaining why the limitations were put in place on the GENECIS programme.
The hospitals said they made a “joint decision to remove” the GENECIS “branding” so “we could care for our patients in a more protective environment”. The statement added that the trans healthcare programme became a “lightning rod for the controversy over hormone therapy for gender dysphoria.
“However, we concluded that without some modifications in our provision of these treatments, we risked the possibility of having to shut down our program entirely and catalyzing action that would lead to their ban statewide,” the statement continued.
Texas attorney general Ken Paxton has asked the court to allow him to intervene on behalf of the state in Lopez’s legal fight with Children’s Medical Center Dallas to provide gender-affirming healthcare to trans parents, the Dallas Morning News reported.
However, the judge hasn’t responded to his request.
Both Paxton and governor Greg Abbott have issued statements as well as approved measures targeting trans youth and their families.
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In February, Abbott ordered state officials with the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to investigate families and doctors providing gender-affirming care for trans youth. The order prompted “child abuse” investigations of supportive families of trans youth in the state and an intense legal battle to stop the probes ensued.
The Texas Supreme Court issued a mixed ruling on trans care for minors on 13 May. The court stopped an investigation into the family of one trans minor but lifted the statewide injunction blocking investigations into the parents of other trans youth.
At the same time, the state’s Supreme Court also affirmed that Abbott doesn’t have the authority or power to issue the order to DFPS to investigate these families.
The DFPS confirmed on 19 May that the agency would investigate all allegations of abuse but did not specifically mention gender-affirming medical care, the Dallas Morning News reported. The statement read: “DFPS treats all reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation seriously and will continue to investigate each to the full extent of the law.”