Children's Medical Center Dallas will resume accepting new patients in a program providing gender-affirming care for transgender youth such care for at least two weeks, thanks to a court order.
Children's Medical Center and another Dallas hospital, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, last November stopped accepting new adolescent patients for their Genecis program, which offers treatments including puberty blockers and hormone therapy, The Dallas Morning News reports.
Young people already enrolled in the program, the oldest and largest in Texas, could continue receiving the care, while others were referred elsewhere. An exception, though, was made for young people needing the treatments for reasons other than gender transition -- for instance, early onset of puberty.
Ximena Lopez, the physician in charge of Genecis, sued Children's Medical Center in March, hoping to force the program to reopen to new patients. Dallas County Judge Melissa Bellan Thursday ordered the hospital to again accept new clients for the program for two weeks while hearings on the suit continue. She said it was discriminatory for the hospital to allow nontransgender youth to begin the treatments but not trans youth.
"I feel immense relief that I can now continue to do good for my patients and provide them with the health care they so desperately need and that medical science recognizes as valid," Lopez told the Morning News.
So far, officials at the two hospitals have not commented on the order. In March, they issued a statement explaining the limitations placed on it. "After legislative hearings last year brought additional scrutiny of our care, the Genecis brand became a lightning rod for the controversy over hormone therapy for gender dysphoria, and we made the joint decision to remove the branding so we could care for our patients in a more protective environment," the statement said. "However, we concluded that without some modifications in our provision of these treatments, we risked the possibility of having to shut down our program entirely and catalyzing action that would lead to their ban statewide."
Last year, Texas legislators considered a bill that would classify gender-affirming care for minors as child abuse, but the bill did not pass. However, this year, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a nonbinding legal opinion calling such care child abuse, and Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the state's Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate parents who allow their minor children access to this care. Abbott's order has been temporarily blocked by a court while a lawsuit against it proceeds.
Lopez has sought to have UT Southwestern officials give depositions regarding the rationale behind placing limits on Genecis -- specifically if politicians or other outsiders influenced the decision. "UT Southwestern has argued that its leaders can refuse to be deposed under state laws that bar governmental bodies from being sued," the Morning News reports. "In taking Children's to court, Lopez hopes to avoid this so-called sovereign immunity argument."
The Genecis program has assisted more than 1,000 trans youth, Lopez's attorney, Charla Aldous, told local TV station KXAS.
"It means a lot to the children who need this care and their families, and I can tell you on Dr. Lopez's behalf, she feels relieved," Aldous explained.
Another hearing in the Children's Medical Center case is set for May 26, according to The Texas Tribune.