Texas attorney general requests transgender youths’ patient records from Georgia clinic

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks at the Collin County Labor day picnic in Plano on Sept. 2, 2023. His office is seeking information on transgender patients from at least two out-of-state health care centers. (Azul Sordo For The Texas Tribune, Azul Sordo For The Texas Tribune)

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is requesting medical records of Texas youth who have received gender-affirming care from a Georgia telehealth clinic, marking at least the second time he’s sought such records from providers in another state.

The clinic, QueerMed, confirmed on Friday morning that they received the request. QueerMed said it stopped servicing youth in Texas after the state banned transition-related care last year. The clinic’s founder said the attorney general requested information about patients dating back to Jan. 1, 2022, before the ban took effect.

The clinic said that Paxton asked for private information about Texas residents who were provided with telehealth care in Texas before the ban, and residents provided with care outside of Texas after the ban. The request, they said, nearly mirrors one the attorney general sent to Seattle Children’s Hospital last year.

Paxton asked Seattle Children’s for a variety of patient information, including the number of Texas children they have treated, medications prescribed to children, the children’s diagnoses and the name of Texas laboratories where tests for youth are administered.

In response to that request, known as a civil investigative demand, Seattle Children’s sued the Texas Office of the Attorney General in December.

QueerMed confirmed that Paxton sent his request to them on Nov. 17, the same day that Seattle Children’s received the similar demand for documents. QueerMed received the request Dec. 7, due to mail delays. Its receipt of the letter was first reported by The Houston Chronicle on Friday morning.

The Office of the Attorney General did not respond to requests for comment on the QueerMed inquiry, and has not publicly discussed his request to Seattle Children’s.

Paxton’s requests come amidst an intensified Republican-led effort in Texas to block the state’s transgender youth from accessing transition-related care like puberty blockers and hormone therapy. Last year, the state banned doctors from prescribing such treatments to minors, even though major medical groups argue gender-affirming care is lifesaving for transgender youth who face higher rates of suicide attempts and mental health problems than their cisgender peers.

The law, Senate Bill 14, also made it illegal to perform surgeries on minors. Before the law passed, Texas Pediatric Society president Louis Appel said he was not aware of minors in Texas having bottom surgery, an umbrella term for surgery that involves genitals.

Karen Loewy, a lawyer with Lambda Legal representing organizations and Texas families of transgender youth trying to block SB 14 in court, said there is “zero authorization” in the law for Paxton’s requests to clinics outside of Texas.

“It’s hard not to see this as part and parcel of the AG’s scorched-earth approach to persecuting trans kids and their parents who are being forced to undertake travel outside of Texas to get their kids the medically necessary care they need,” Loewy said.

Texas is one of 19 states with laws restricting minors’ access to gender-affirming care passed in recent years. Republican lawmakers have also sought to restrict transgender youth from using certain public restrooms or playing on sports teams that do not align with their biological gender.

Loewy said that “a handful” of other organizations have received requests for medical records from Paxton. She declined to provide the exact amount or names of organizations the attorney general has contacted.

A QueerMed official could not immediately comment on how the clinic will respond to the attorney general.

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