Health & Science

Ken Paxton says he will investigate Texas Children’s in Houston for providing ‘illegal’ gender affirming care

Senate Bill 14 proposed this session would make gender affirming care illegal in the state of Texas and was recently passed by both the state House and Senate, though Gov. Abbott has yet to sign it into law. 


Demonstrators hold signs in support of transgender youth outside the Texas Capitol on March 1 in response to proposed legal action against parents seeking gender-affirming health care for their children.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Friday that he is launching an investigation into Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, the largest children's hospital in the United States, for "actively engaging in illegal behavior" by providing gender affirming care to minors.

"I've been clear that any ‘gender transitioning' procedures that hurt our children constitute child abuse under Texas law," Paxton said in a statement released Friday morning. "Recent reports indicate that Texas Children's Hospital may be unlawfully performing such procedures."

Two weeks ago, Paxton made similar allegations against Dell Children's Medical Center in Austin, after which, doctors left the hospital's adolescent medicine clinic.

While there is a bill headed to Gov. Abbott's desk which would specifically make gender affirming care for minors illegal, Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee says there is currently no such law in effect.

“The easiest evidence that it’s incorrect is that right now, you have Republican legislators out at the capitol in Austin doing everything they can to pass a ban on gender affirming care for minors because they know that it is legal today," said Menefee.

Senate Bill 14 proposed this session would make gender affirming care illegal in the state of Texas and was recently passed by both the state House and Senate, though Gov. Abbott has yet to sign it into law.

Menefee said that he is asking Paxton to, instead, investigate the leak of Texas Children's patients' protected medical records which led to the allegations against the hospital.

Patients' records were obtained and published online by Christopher F. Rufo, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank.

"Patient medical records are protected from disclosure to folks who are not involved in the process of providing care under both federal and state law," said Menefee. "The right-wing blog that these documents were sent to received the documents from someone that had access to confidential patient information at the hospital."

At this time, it is unclear who specifically is responsible for the leak.

"I think anybody in Texas who supports protecting our children should be appalled by the reprehensible act of taking children's medical records and sending them off to an activist blog writer," said Menefee. "It may be a violation of federal law and also of state law."

Regardless of whether Paxton's allegations are true, Menefee said the investigation itself may dissuade physicians from providing gender affirming care even while it remains legal.

"This could cause a chilling effect. These doctors, regardless of their political persuasion, understand that providing care is to those who seek it is their number one duty. They don't consider themselves to be playing politics," said Menefee. "But when you have an attorney general come in and investigate them for doing something that's perfectly legal while ignoring the very clear violation of our state's privacy laws for medical records, it's going to cause folks to not want to provide this kind of care."

It is unclear whether physicians at Texas Children's will leave, similarly to those at Dell Children's. A spokesperson for Texas Children's released a statement Friday afternoon, which reads, "At Texas Children's Hospital, our mission is to provide high-quality care for all patients. Throughout the policy debate surrounding gender medicine, our healthcare professionals have always and will continue to prioritize the care of our patients within the bounds of the law."

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