A Dallas County judge has temporarily removed all barriers for transgender youth seeking medical treatment at Dallas Children’s Medical Center, a major victory for doctors fighting to restore access to gender-affirming health care for children. new patients.
On Thursday, Judge Melissa Bellan granted a two-week temporary restraining order against the hospital. The order ends its recent decision to stop providing certain medical treatments, such as puberty blockers and hormone therapy, to new teenage trans patients as a legal battle continues over whether to completely reverse the Politics.
The order came at the request of Ximena Lopez, the doctor who ran a program for transgender youth called Genecis that Children’s ran jointly with UT Southwestern until last year. She first went to court in March hoping to force hospitals to resume care for new patients.
“I feel immense relief that I can now continue to do good for my patients and provide them with the health care that they desperately need and that medical science recognizes as valuable,” Lopez said. The Dallas Morning News Thursday.
The Children’s Medical Center declined to comment on the restraining order. UT Southwestern, whose spokesperson also declined to comment, is not subject to the order.
In November, UT Southwestern and Children’s Medical Center removed all Genecis branding from the Internet and began referring new underage patients seeking puberty suppressants and hormone therapy for the treatment of gender dysphoria to outside providers.
Transgender patients previously enrolled in Genecis can still access these treatments, UT Southwestern said, as can young people seeking hormones for reasons unrelated to gender dysphoria. Hospitals continue to provide mental health care to new child and adolescent patients with gender dysphoria.
In a hearing on Wednesday, lawyers for Lopez said denying treatment to trans youth who seek that care, while providing it to non-trans patients seeking care for issues like precocious puberty, was discriminatory and could cause “irreparable injury”.
Bellan agreed, noting in his order that Lopez demonstrated that Children’s interfered with his ability to exercise his best medical judgment.
The court has scheduled a hearing for a temporary injunction against the children’s medical center at the end of the 14-day period of the temporary restraining order. If granted, the temporary injunction could extend the pause on the hospital’s decision to stop providing some care to new adolescent transgender patients.
Lopez’s decision to issue a restraining order against the hospital is unusual, said Dr. Michael Ewer, physician, attorney and visiting professor at the University of Houston Law Center. Although legal battles between doctors and medical institutions take place, they can have a significant effect on the doctor’s future.
“It happened from time to time. There were huge colonies. Sometimes doctors win, very often doctors don’t win, but it’s always a major change in the doctor’s career path,” he said.
There isn’t much precedent for which side a court would side with in a case between a doctor’s right to treat a patient and a hospital’s right to change care policies, Ewer said. .
The only commonality is that in more cases the court would prefer the parties to settle their disagreement outside of the courtroom.
“If it goes to court, and somebody gets stubborn and says, ‘No, there’s no room for compromise here. We need to set a standard that will be followed by others, and we want that to be heard, ‘so we can have a situation like this,’ he said.
This is the second time in two months that Lopez has sued a hospital where she works.
In March, she filed a petition to depose top executives at UT Southwestern in hopes of finding out whether politicians or other outside parties pressured the hospital to disband the Genecis program. A Dallas judge approved his request, but an appeals court stayed the order.
UT Southwestern has argued that its executives can decline to be deposed under state laws that bar government agencies from being sued. By suing Children’s, Lopez hopes to avoid what has been called the sovereign immunity argument.
The temporary restraining order is part of his effort to ask the court for an injunction blocking all changes to Genecis.
“Dr. Lopez never wanted this fight. She never wanted to go to court and sue anyone,” Lopez’s attorney Charla Aldous said in a statement to The news. “She just wants to be able to treat her patients and provide them with whatever care they might need, based on her judgment, her training, and the science.”
Genecis, founded seven years ago, was the first and largest program in Texas to provide comprehensive gender affirmation services to transgender and non-binary youth. The decision in November to dissolve its brand and stop accepting new patients for puberty blockers and hormone treatments surprised some doctors and patients.
Medical care for trans youth has found itself at the center of Texas politics, becoming a major target for Republicans during this year’s competitive GOP primary season.
In February, Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a non-binding opinion declaring certain gender-affirming care for minors as child abuse. Governor Greg Abbott then quickly ordered child protective services to investigate any reports.
Abbott’s order is on hold while the parents of a transgender teenager challenge the policy in court.
In a March statement, the hospitals said they considered media attention and scientific and political controversy when modifying the program.
“After last year’s legislative hearings brought further scrutiny to our care, the GENECIS brand became a lightning rod for controversy over hormone therapy for gender dysphoria, and we made the joint decision to remove the brand so that we can care for our patients in a more environmentally protective way,” UT Southwestern and Children’s Heath said in a joint statement March 28. “However, we have concluded that without some changes in our provision of these treatments , we risked the possibility of having to shut down our program altogether and catalyze action that would lead to their statewide banning.
On Wednesday, Paxton joined a multi-state coalition in support of Alabama’s new law banning gender-affirming medical treatment for trans teens, calling the care “sexual predation of the left.”
All major national and state medical groups, including the American and Texas medical associations, support individualized, age-appropriate care for minors with gender dysphoria.