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Judge blocks Texas’s “cruel attempt” to force LGBTQ+ group to out trans families

Judge makes ruling
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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) has repeatedly abused his position to persecute trans people, their families, and health providers. The far-right politician has exceeded his authority in vicious attempts to force out-of-state companies and universities to hand over private information using legal threats and bullying behavior.

While some states have passed laws to protect health systems and families from Paxton’s desperate attempts to force them to turn over medical records and other information, the legal system itself has put the brakes on some of his most outrageous efforts.

The LGBTQ+ group PFLAG, which supports the families and friends of queer people, is one of the groups currently suing Texas over a state law that bans gender-affirming care for transgender children.

The Attorney General recently attempted to force the group to out trans families, their health care providers, and insurance companies in a brazen and “cruel attempt to circumvent the legal system,” according to Lynly Egyes, legal director at Transgender Law Center. The center is one of the group’s legal representatives in the suit.

In an affidavit in the lawsuit, PFLAG CEO Brian Bond attested that the legislature’s passage of S.B. 14, the state’s ban on gender-affirming care for minors, was passed, “PFLAG families with transgender and nonbinary adolescents shared their contingency plans — those with the resources to move or seek out-of-state care have begun firming up their plans to do so, while the vast majority without those resources have been asking chapters for alternative avenues to maintain care in Texas.”

While the law bans trans young people from receiving gender-affirming care in Texas, it does not prevent families from seeking care in other states. Paxton’s office has repeatedly sent demands that medical providers turn over information about Texans and former residents who have sought care in other states.

In its civil investigation demand, dated February 5, the AG’s office requested PFLAG turn over all documents and communications related to the “contingency plans” and “alternative avenues to maintain care” that Bond mentioned in his affidavit.

Paxton also demanded all “recommendations, referrals, and/or lists of pediatric and/or adolescent ‘health care providers’… in Texas, that PFLAG (or any of its representatives) has created, maintained, received, or distributed since March 8, 2023,” along with communications to or from gender-affirming care providers, including, Texas Children’s Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine, Seattle Children’s Hospital, telehealth provider QMed, QueerDoc, and Plume Health.

Paxton’s office claimed in its civil investigation demand that it was investigating alleged “misrepresentations regarding Gender Transitioning and Reassignment Treatments and Procedures” potentially in violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act (DTPA). This week, however, Paxton’s office told The Washington Post that it is investigating whether medical providers are “committing insurance fraud as part of a scheme to evade the law, such as by prescribing hormones for a pretextual medical diagnosis unrelated to gender transition.”

“Any organization seeking to violate this law, commit fraud, or weaponize science and medicine against children will be held accountable,” the Paxton said in a statement.

PFLAG immediately sought a restraining order. The group said that Paxton’s demands violate its members’ “rights to freedom of petition, speech, and assembly and to be free from unjustified searches and seizures, are contrary to the OGA’s [the Child Support Division of the Office of the Attorney General’s] authority under the DTPA, and impermissibly seek to evade the protections afforded to PFLAG as a civil litigant.”

“These Demands are a clear and unmistakable overreach by the OAG in retaliation for PFLAG successfully standing up for its members, who include Texas transgender youth and their families, against the OAG’s, the Attorney General’s, and the State of Texas’s relentless campaign to persecute Texas trans youth and their loving parents,” the suit reads.

“This mean-spirited demand from the Attorney General’s Office is petty and invasive, which is why we want the court to put an end to it,” Bond said in a statement.

Lambda Legal senior counsel Karen Loewy said Paxon’s demand “smacks of retaliation against PFLAG National for standing up for those families against the State’s persecution.”

A Texas judge agreed with the group and issued a temporary restraining order blocking Paxton’s attempt. A hearing has been set for later this month for the attorney general to argue why the restraining order should be lifted. Until then, Paxton cannot enforce his legal threats.

“We’re grateful that the Court saw the harm the Attorney General’s Office’s intrusive demands posed for PFLAG National and its Texas members — and is protecting them from having to respond while we continue to litigate the legality of the office’s requests,” the group’s attorneys said after the ruling. “We now will return to court to seek an extended and ultimately permanent block so that PFLAG can continue supporting its Texas members with transgender youth in doing what all loving parents do: supporting and caring for their children.”

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