Texas AG drops “abusive” attempt to get info about trans kids from Seattle hospital

Author: John Russell

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) has agreed to drop his pursuit of information on transgender patients who have been treated at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Seattle Children’s Hospital sued the Texas AG’s office in December, seeking to block a November 17 subpoena demanding records pertaining to any Texas patients who received gender-affirming care at the hospital. Paxton believed that Seattle Children’s was providing puberty blockers and hormone therapy to minors in Texas, where such treatment has been banned for young people since last August.

But gender-affirming care for minors is legal in the state of Washington, and the hospital argued in its lawsuit that Paxton’s office does not have jurisdiction over it. Furthermore, in a sworn affidavit the hospital system’s chief medical operations officer said that Seattle Children’s does not employ staff in Texas who provide gender-affirming care, nor does the hospital provide such care remotely to anyone outside of Washington.

The lawsuit also cited Washington’s “shield law” which blocks officials in the state from turning over records “related to protected health care services that are lawful in the state of Washington” to officials in other states in response to “a subpoena, warrant, court order, or other civil or criminal legal process.”

The hospital argued that Paxton’s demands were “an unconstitutional attempt to investigate and chill potential travel by Texas residents to obtain healthcare in another state,” something many families in states that have outlawed gender-affirming care for minors have been forced to do in recent years.

Seattle Children’s Hospital is not the only facility or organization from which Paxton has demanded information on transgender people.

According to the Texas Tribune, the AG’s office sent a nearly identical subpoena to a Georgia-based telehealth clinic. And in February, Paxton sent a civil investigation demand to PFLAG National requesting records related to the families of transgender young people in Texas seeking to maintain gender-affirming care. Last month, a Texas judge granted a temporary injunction blocking Paxton’s demand.

Last week, a 10-page Democratic congressional report found that Paxton and other Republican AGs had used “abusive legal demands” to collect trans patients’ medical records in pursuit of “ideological and political goals.” Such investigations have contributed to hostile anti-LGBTQ+ social and political climates and have also worsened queer people’s mental health, leading to “suicidal ideation, severe depression, and intense anxiety,” the report added.

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Author: John Russell

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