Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

Despite the fact that the anti-scientific and medically dangerous Senate Bill 15, which bans gender-affirming care for transgender minors in Texas, has been passed by the Texas Legislature and will soon be signed by Gov. Greg Abbott (if he hasn’t already signed it), the new law does not take effect until Sept. 1. Considering that trans youth advocates have already said they will be challenging the law in court as soon as Abbott signs it, SB 15 could very well be enjoined from being enforced as the legal challenges play out.

And yet, Texas’ right-wing, federally-indicted attorney general, Ken Paxton, announced today that he will be investigating a second hospital for “violating the law” by offering gender-affirming care because that is against the law.

Because he said so.

According to a press release from Paxton’s office, he has “announced an investigation into Texas Children’s Hospital [in Houston] to determine if the entity is actively engaging in illegal behavior and performing ‘gender transitioning’ procedures on children.”

“I’ve been clear that any ‘gender transitioning’ procedures that hurt our children constitute child abuse under Texas law,” Paxton declares in the press release. However, regardless of how clear he thinks he has been, Paxton is wrong.

Yes, he did issue “an opinion” saying that gender-affirming care is child abuse in early 2022, and, yes, Abbott did issue an executive order based on Paxton’s opinion telling the Department of Family and Protective Services (which includes Child Protective Services) to investigate parents and physicians that provide such healthcare to minors. BUT here’s the thing, Paxton’s since-discredited opinion is not legally binding, and Abbott doesn’t get to just make whatever law he wants, and the courts have already issued injunctions halting such investigations.

In other words, “because I said so” isn’t legally binding in Texas. (At least, not yet.)

And yet, Paxton is persistent. He has already caused the doctors that staffed Dell Children’s Medical Center to leave because he announced an investigation there.

(There have also been indications that U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, both Republicans are involved in the Dell Children’s fiasco and that both had “sent a letter on April 25 to the hospital, to the medical school and to Ascension, Texas, which owns Dell Children’s, asking for records and names of families that were receiving gender-affirming care,” according to Texas Standard. Wouldn’t that be a violation of federal HIPPA laws?)

In his press release, Paxton goes onto to say, “Recent reports indicate that Texas Children’s Hospital may be unlawfully performing such procedures, and my office it is working to uncover the truth. I am committed to investigating any entity in our state to ensure that our children are protected.

“Though many unhinged activists compromising the healthcare field think otherwise, children are not to be treated as science experiments. Doctors and hospitals should not be pushing mutilative and irreversible ‘gender transitioning’ procedures that will negatively impact innocent children for the rest of their lives.”

Interesting to note here that medical professionals who disagree with Paxton — who has absolutely NO medical background or education — are “unhinged activists.” Also interesting that the political party that has been SO INSISTENT that parents should be the ones making decisions about their children is now the party insisting that it gets to take away certain parents’ rights to make decisions about their children.

By the way, those “unhinged activists comprising the healthcare field” who “think otherwise” include: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Academy of Dermatology, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Nursing, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Physician Assistants, American College Health Association, American College of Nurse-Midwives, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American College of Physicians, American Counseling Association, American Heart Association, American Medical Association, American Medical Student Association, American Nurses Association, American Osteopathic Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American Public Health Association, American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Endocrine Society, Federation of Pediatric Organizations, GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality, National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health, National Association of Social Workers, National Commission on Correctional Health Care, Pediatric Endocrine Society, Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, World Medical Association and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.

But of course, Paxton knows better than all those folks. Because he said so.

— Tammye Nash