Texas attorney general Ken Paxton removed from case over gender-affirming care for trans youth

Maggie Baska June 18, 2022
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Texas attorney general Ken Paxton wears a white button up shirt, red tie and blue suit jacket as he speaks into a microphone and gestures with both his hands. He is standing in front of two people wearing red outfits

A Texas judge rejected Ken Paxton's requests to intervene on behalf of the state in a lawsuit regarding the provision of gender-affirming healthcare to trans minors. (Getty/Drew Angerer)

A Texas judge has prevented attorney general Ken Paxton from intervening in a case where a doctor is fighting to continue providing gender-affirming care to trans youth. 

After a two-hour hearing Friday (17 June), Dallas county judge Melissa Bellan ruled that Paxton had not convinced her that the state had an interest in the legal battle between Children’s Medical Center and Dr Ximena Lopez, the Dallas Morning News reported.

The decision is the latest win for Dr Lopez, who led the hospital’s GENECIS programme for trans and non-binary youth. Lopez sued the hospital to reverse its decision to stop providing vital gender-affirming treatments – such as puberty blockers and hormone therapy – to new patients. 

In May, Bellan issued a temporary injunction and restraining order allowing Lopez and other doctors at Children’s to continue providing gender-affirming medical care to new patients while the legal battle continues. 

Paxton’s deputies intervened and argued they wanted to intervene in the case because his office believes gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth could be considered “child abuse”. 

Assistant attorney general Johnathan Stone told Bellan that the May decision “goes against child welfare laws” as Paxton’s office ‘interprets them’. 

“We’re defending the state’s ability to enforce the law,” Stone argued. 

Stone also pointed to a legal opinion Paxton issued in February that claimed gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth was “child abuse”. Paxton’s opinion prompted governor Greg Abbott to order state officials to investigate families and doctors providing gender-affirming care for trans youth.

The order led to “child abuse” investigations of supportive families of trans youth and doctors in the state, resulting in a tense legal battle

A person holds up a sign that reads 'Make trans resources available & visible'. The sign has blue, pink and white stripes like the trans Pride flag with one corner with a design reminiscent of the progressive Pride flag
LGBTQ+ advocates have condemned Texas attorney general Ken Paxton’s campaign against the trans community in the state. (Wiktor Szymanowicz/Future Publishing via Getty)

The Texas Supreme Court ruled in May that Abbott had no authority or power to force state officials to investigate “child abuse” investigations of parents of trans youth. 

Bellan cited this ruling when questioning why Paxton’s office thought they could intervene in this case.

“That opinion is not legally binding. So that shoots your argument out of the water,” Bellan told Stone. 

Bellan continued: “The Texas Supreme Court said the AG’s [attorney general’s] opinion is not binding, it is not law and that the AG should not be getting involved in these situations.”

The judge also said the case between Lopez and Children’s centred on the doctor’s ability to provide gender-affirming medical treatments to trans youth according to her best medical judgement and within the medical standards of care. 

Bellan noted Paxton’s office couldn’t cite an abuse allegation or other specific reason why the state should be allowed to intervene in the case. She also said Children’s, which is the defendant in the case, didn’t ask for the state to intervene. 

Charla Aldous, one of Lopez’s lawyers, told the Dallas Morning News that the doctor and her legal team are pleased that Bellan “saw through these shenanigans and struck the intervention”. 

“It is mind boggling that Paxton continues to fight against the best interest of children,” Aldous added. 

Paxton is expected to appeal Bellan’s decision to the Fifth Court of Appeals in Dallas, according to the Dallas Morning News

PinkNews has reached out to Paxton’s office for comment. 


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