News (USA)

Judge tells Texas Attorney General to stay out of trans lawsuit. No one wants him there

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R)
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) Photo: Screenshot

A Texas judge in Dallas County has ruled that the state’s transphobic Attorney General Ken Paxton can’t intervene in a lawsuit that would help transgender youth obtain gender-affirming care from a city children’s hospital.

The judge’s decision marks the latest legal defeat in Paxton’s repeated attempts to score political points by attacking queer kids. Paxton’s office has repeatedly claimed — without legal support and against the mainstream medical recommendations — that gender-affirming care is a form of “child abuse.”

Related: Texas GOP adopts shockingly explicit anti-LGBTQ party platform

Dallas County Judge Melissa Bellan decided last Friday that Paxton hadn’t convinced her of the state’s right to weigh in on an agreement between Children’s Medical Center Dallas and Dr. Ximena Lopez. Lopez sued the hospital in March, saying that the hospital violated non-discrimination policies when it decided to stop offering puberty blockers and hormone therapy as part of its gender-affirming care offerings in November 2021.

Children’s Medical Center Dallas and Dr. Lopez had reached an agreement to let her continue offering gender-affirming care until April 2023, as her lawsuit against the hospital continues.

Paxton attempted to intervene in the case and oppose the agreement as “child abuse,” even though Children’s Medical Center hadn’t asked him to. However, Dallas County Judge Melissa Bellan was having none of it.

Bellan ruled that Paxton hadn’t offered any proof of his “child abuse” claim nor any proof that his intervention would further any compelling government interest.

Paxton’s attorneys pointed to the non-binding opinion he issued in February stating that gender-affirming health care for transgender youth is a form of child abuse. His opinion provided backing for Gov. Greg Abbott to direct the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to investigate parents who allow their trans children to access gender-affirming medical care prescribed by their doctors.

However, Lopez’s attorneys pointed out that Paxton’s opinion has no legal basis since no state laws define gender-affirming care as a form of child abuse. Additionally, last month, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the state government had no right to order DFPS to investigate the parents of trans youth for child abuse.

“The attorney general has no business being in this case and tried to push his way into it to satisfy a political interest, not a legal one,” one of Lopez’s attorneys, Charla Aldous, told The Dallas Morning News. “The attorney general intervened in this lawsuit with no purpose but intimidation only,” Brent Walker, another of Lopez’s attorneys, added.

Paxton’s office is expected to fight her decision at the Fifth Court of Appeals in Dallas.

Paxton’s and Abbott’s views go against the best practices of trans-related pediatrics outlined by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and the American Psychological Association. The organizations find that gender-affirming medical care is medically necessary and reduces suicide and depression among trans youth.

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