Conservative protests force transgender youth health clinic to close

: A supporter holds a sign that says "Support Trans Youth"
Photo: Shutterstock

A Dallas health care program for transgender youth has been shut down after conservative activists lobbied against it, The Texas Tribune reports. The critics claimed that providing gender affirming health care to transgender youth is “child abuse,” even though it saves lives.

The GENder Education and Care, Interdisciplinary Support program, known as GENECIS, was Texas’s only public clinic for transgender youth, until officials announced on Friday that it would be shutting down.

Related: President Biden honors trans people lost to “horrifying violence” on Transgender Day of Remembrance

Officials from the Children’s Medical Center Dallas and UT Southwestern Medical Center, which operated the program together, have assured the public that those who were receiving treatment through the program will continue to do so through other hospital departments. Dissolving the program, they said, was the best option to maintain patient privacy.

“The choice to remove branding for this care offers a more private, insulated experience for patients and their families,” said a joint statement from the two medical centers.

The statement also emphasized that staff does not “anticipate any interruption of care or services for our existing patients who already receive care with these specialty teams.”

It added, however, that while the appropriate departments will continue to accept new patients and evaluate them for “gender dysphoria,” doctors “will not initiate patients on hormone or puberty suppression therapy only for this diagnosis.”

The program’s closure was fueled by anti-trans activists, who organized protests and accused hospital officials of child abuse. The conservative organization Save Texas Kids went so far as to say that gender affirming care “erodes the family unit.”

In the wake of these protests, Children’s Medical Center Dallas defended GENECIS to the Dallas Express, stating that it saves lives.

“With a suicide attempt rate of up to 41% for children and adolescents with gender dysphoria,” said a hospital representative, “there is a need for comprehensive care for these youth. Given the significant suffering and extraordinarily high suicide rate in these children, offering a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach is needed to help treat this medical problem.”

The statement also said, “The program provides gender-affirming care. It does not perform gender-affirming surgery.”

Gender affirming surgery is not performed on minors in Texas. Instead, youth are often given reversible treatments like puberty blockers or non-medical treatments like social transitioning and therapy.

The program’s closure also comes as Texas remains one of the epicenters of this year’s onslaught of anti-trans legislation.

In October, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed a new law forbidding students from competing on school sports teams that match their gender identity. Instead, the gender listed on their birth certificate will be the sole arbiter of what team they are allowed to join.

Abbott, one of the most vociferously anti-LGBTQ governors in the nation, has promised donors that he will promote legislation attacking transgender children “every single session that we have.”

As of September, more than 70 anti-LGBTQ bills had been filed in the Texas legislature in 2021, most of which target transgender youth, Equality Texas reported.

Ricardo Martinez, Equality Texas CEO, released a statement in the wake of the GENECIS closing, expressing how “heartbreaking” it is that doctors are harassed for “trying to uphold their Hippocratic oath to save lives.”
“Accessing healthcare can be a courageous act for many LGBTQ+ people,” Martinez said, “because of how difficult it is to find providers who are knowledgeable about our needs and the poor treatment we have experienced by insurers and/or providers in the past.”
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