Dallas Hospital to Resume Gender-Affirming Care for New Pediatric Patients

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A Dallas County judge on Thursday ordered the temporary removal of barriers for gender-affirming treatments for pediatric patients at Children's Medical Center Dallas.

It means that after months of denying new patients certain gender-affirming care, doctors at both Children’s Medical Center and UT Southwestern can resume treatment for transgender youth, as usual, according to Dallas attorney Charla Aldous.

The reversal comes after Dallas County Judge Melissa Bellan granted a two-week temporary restraining order requested on behalf of Dr. Ximena Lopez, who founded GENECIS in 2015, a first-of-its-kind program in the U.S. Southwest providing care for transgender youth.

“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 said.

Kammie Johnson, 23, was one of the first patients.

“It was like I found a clinic dedicated to trans youth and they wanted to help me,” Johnson said.

As a transgender youth, Johnson said GENECIS was one of the first places she felt understood.

The program helped more than 1,000 transgender youth, according to Aldous. But in November 2021, the program was shut down and no new patients seeking hormone therapy or puberty blockers were accepted.

Johnson says that therapy was critical.

“Once I was prescribed puberty blockers, I was like, 'oh my gosh, I can breathe, like, something is going to be put on pause,' and I even knew at that time, I have time to think,” Johnson recalled.

In a statement in March, UT Southwestern, which operated the program with Children's Health, said the joint decision to stop offering the treatments to new pediatric patients was based on a "limited understanding of the long-term effects,” “media attention,” and “political and scientific controversy."

Aldous, who represents Lopez, says they believe state lawmakers influenced the decision.

“I don't understand why politicians and others want to interfere with others and their families who are trying to save the lives of their children. It makes no sense to me. It’s nobody else's business,” Aldous said.

Thursday's ruling means treatment that ceased in November for potential patients can resume for 14 days.

The time frame could be extended.

The order does not reinstate the GENECIS program.

When reached for comment Thursday, a representative for Children's Health said, “We do not comment about ongoing legal proceedings.”

As NBC 5 has reported, doctors at both hospitals could continue prescribing puberty blockers to current patients.

The change only affected new patients with gender dysphoria, a feeling of distress that might occur in people whose gender identity differs from their sex at birth.

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