An investigation led by Republican Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton, has sent doctors at an Austin hospital into a panic, causing all the physicians in its adolescent medicine department to depart.
Earlier this week, Dell Children’s clinic, which provides gender-affirming care for trans children, announced to parents that they would need to find new providers for their children in transition.
In a statement, the hospital said: “We are working with our staff, families, and other providers to ensure our patients’ safety and make sure we are helping families connect with the appropriate healthcare services. While the physicians who previously staffed the clinic will be departing, the clinic remains open and supported by other physicians within Dell Children’s Medical Group.”
The hospital did not clarify if the doctors’ departure meant they were fired or if they chose to resign.
Paxton’s office claimed the investigation was being conducted on the grounds that the care these children were receiving was illegal because they were under the age of 18.
Paxton said: “Across the country, there are doctors and healthcare professionals who appear willing to sacrifice the long-term health of American children, all in service to the increasingly dangerous fad of ‘transgender’ extremism. It is deeply disturbing, and there is no place for it in Texas.”
Paxton added: “Along these lines, there have been a number of recent reports about potentially illegal activity at Dell Children’s medical center, and this investigation aims to uncover the truth.”
Although gender-affirming care is legal in Texas, Paxton and the rightwing Republican governor, Greg Abbott, have labeled the practice as child abuse, allowing them to pursue punishment through other means. In February 2022, Abbott ordered the Texas department of family and protective services to investigate the parents of any children receiving gender-affirming care.
The moved worried families who suddenly felt unsafe and feared they could be ripped apart. Some left the state altogether.
The Texas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenged the directive with legal action, which is still ongoing.
In a statement, the ACLU of Texas said at the time: “Abbott’s directive represented the expansion of both a political war on transgender youth and the mandate of a family policing system that already endangers families and youth alike.”
Some lawmakers in the state are also hoping to outlaw gender-affirming care. The proposed bill was approved by the house last week and now moves to the senate. If approved, trans children will not be allowed to receive hormone therapies, puberty blockers or transition-related surgeries.
The abrupt departure of the physicians in Dell Children’s adolescent medicine department also disrupts the treatment plan of teen patients with cancer and eating disorders.
The incident comes as Texas – and a number of other Republican-led US states – have passed laws attacking transgender people. There was more anti-transgender legislation filed in Texas this year than in any other state in the US, according to a recent count by the news website Axios.