Seattle hospital: Texas AG sought records about transgender care for children

Texas state Attorney General Ken Paxton
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked a Seattle hospital to hand over records regarding gender-affirming treatment potentially given to children from Texas, according to court filings that appear to show the Republican going beyond state borders to investigate transgender health care.

Seattle Children’s Hospital filed a lawsuit in Austin, Texas, this month asking a court to invalidate or narrow the requests from Paxton, a staunch conservative who has helped drive Republican efforts that target the rights of trans people. His office sent similar letters earlier this year to Texas hospitals.

Texas is among more than 20 states that have enacted laws restricting or banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors. On Friday, court records showed there been no decision yet on the Seattle hospital’s lawsuit.

The hospital argued Paxton’s office was overstepping its jurisdiction and had no authority to request the records.

“Additionally, the Demands represent an unconstitutional attempt to investigate and chill potential interstate commerce and travel for Texas residents to another state,” the lawsuit states.

Paxton’s office did not immediately respond to a phone message and email seeking comment Friday.

Ashley Speller, a spokesperson for Seattle Children’s Hospital, said in an emailed statement that it complies with the law and went to court “to protect private patient information related to gender-affirming care services at our organization.”

The hospital received the request from Texas in November. The lawsuit includes a copy of the letter from Paxton’s office, which among other requests asks the hospital to produce records identifying medication given to children who live in Texas; the number of Texas children who received treatment; and documents that identify the “standard protocol or guidance” used for treatment.

The hospital argued in cannot respond to the letter under a law signed by Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee earlier this year that aims to protects minors seeking gender-affirming care in Washington.

The law was part of a wave of legislation this year in Democratic-led states intended to give refuge amid a conservative movement in which lawmakers in other states have attacked transgender rights and limited or banned gender-affirming care for minors.

In May, Paxton’s office sought information from Dell Children’s Hospital in Texas about its policies on puberty blockers as well as documents identifying patients it has referred for treatment or counseling. The attorney general’s office request at the time asked to examine hospital records “to determine whether any state laws have been violated or misrepresentations have been made to parents and patients.”

Those efforts began before Texas’ restrictions were signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who was the first governor to order the investigation of families of transgender minors who receive gender-affirming care.

The Texas law prevents transgender minors from accessing hormone therapies, puberty blockers and transition surgeries, even though medical experts say such surgical procedures are rarely performed on children. Children who already started the medications being banned are required to be weaned off in a “medically appropriate” manner.

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