transgender rights

Doctor That Specializes in Transgender Care Takes Employer to Court

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A Dallas doctor who treats transgender children is taking her employer to court.

Dr. Ximena Lopez said she wants to know why UT Southwestern Medical Center decided to close the only transgender youth clinic in the southwest.

Since 2015, GENECIS Clinic, at Children’s Medical Center Dallas, has helped children and teens with gender dysphoria, a condition involving people who do not identify with their gender at birth.

NBC 5 profiled the program's growth two years after it opened.

After extensive evaluation, prospective patients may receive gender-affirming care like puberty blockers or hormone therapy.

But seven years after opening, GENECIS may have helped its last new patient.

On Wednesday, a petition was filed in Dallas County on behalf of Dr. Lopez, a pediatric endocrinologist at Children’s Health and Associate Professor at UTSW Medical Center.

The petition accuses UTSW Medical Center of abruptly cutting off care to new patients in November.

The petition states Dr. Lopez, who created the clinic, has been told she’s "to deny any new requests" for the medications.

The petition says halting gender-affirming health care violates the university's non-discrimination policy and prevents her from using “independent medical judgment to provide gender-affirming care to specific patients solely on the grounds of the patient’s gender identity.”

In the petition, Dr. Lopez asks: "Who is dictating this illegal policy and why?"

It also accuses Attorney General Ken Paxton and Governor Abbott of helping allow gender-affirming care to become a “political wedge issue.”

"Someone, some entity, or some office is illegally attempting to interfere with or control Dr. Lopez's independent medical judgment,” the petition states.

To get answers, she's seeking depositions and documents, including emails and texts from the presidents of UTSW Medical Center and Children’s Medical Center Dallas.

UTSW Medical Center told NBC 5 it does not comment on pending litigation.

In a statement, a spokesperson wrote:

“UT Southwestern is committed to providing equal opportunities to all members of the campus community and to maintaining an environment that is free from unlawful discrimination, harassment and retaliation. In accordance with the Board of Regents' Rules and Regulations, UT System policy, and applicable federal and state law, no individual will be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination in UT Southwestern services, programs, and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, genetic information, protected veteran status, citizenship status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.”

In a statement, last week to our partners at the Dallas Morning News, a UTSW Medical Center spokesperson said new patients are still evaluated, treated and receive gender-affirming care which was previously provided by GENECIS, including psychological and counseling care, with one exception:

“Those new patients and their families seeking puberty blockers and hormone replacement therapy after diagnosis of gender dysphoria are now referred to an outside practice for this treatment,” the statement said.

It continued:

“The decision to cease offering puberty blockers and hormone therapy to new pediatric patients was based on a variety of factors, including growing concern in the medical community about our limited understanding of the long-term effects – both psychological and physical – on children who receive this treatment. We considered that there have not been controlled trials that have clearly delineated the effectiveness and safety of these treatments. According to the scientific journal Transgender Health, as of 2021: No medications carry an FDA indication for use in youth with gender dysphoria. Media attention and political and scientific controversy, as well as UT Southwestern’s status as a state agency, were considered in the months leading up to these joint decisions. UT Southwestern physicians provide pediatric care at Children’s Health facilities through our affiliation agreement.”

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