The state of Texas cannot interfere in a lawsuit between a doctor who provides gender-affirming treatment to transgender youth and her employer, a judge in Dallas ruled Friday.
According to The Dallas Morning News, after a contentious hearing that lasted more than two hours, Dallas County Judge Melissa Bellan said that the state’s attorney general, Ken Paxton, had failed to convince her that Texas had an interest in the case.
In March, Dr. Ximena Lopez, who runs a program for transgender youth, sued the Children’s Medical Center in Dallas to reverse its decision to stop providing certain gender-affirming treatments to new transgender patients.
Earlier last month, Bellan issued a temporary restraining order banning the hospital’s decision for two weeks. On May 23, the judge granted an injunction, which allows Lopez to treat trans youth until April 2023, while the case is being litigated.
Paxton opposed the decision. The state’s assistant attorney general, Johnathan Stone, told the judge that “we’re defending the state’s ability to enforce the law” and that the decision “goes against child welfare laws as we interpret them.”
In February, Paxton issued a nonbinding opinion stating that such “procedures and treatments” could legally constitute “child abuse when performed on minor children.”
Gov. Greg Abbott used that opinion to direct state agencies to investigate families and health care providers of transgender youth.
In May, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that state officials could resume “child abuse” investigations on parents of transgender youth who provide gender-affirming health care for their kids — while also ruling that neither Paxton nor Abbott had the power to direct the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to conduct such investigations.
On Friday, Bellan cited that ruling when questioning the state as to why they thought they could intervene in this case.
“We are pleased that Judge Bellan saw through these shenanigans and struck the intervention,” one of Lopez’s lawyers, Charla Aldous, said in a statement. “It is mind-boggling that Paxton continues to fight against the best interest of children,” she added.
Abbott’s directive directly contradicts guidance released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which states “that gender-affirming care improves the mental health and overall well-being of gender-diverse children and adolescents” — an assessment supported by major medical associations in the U.S., including the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.