Dr. Ximena Lopez is suing the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center after Children’s Medical Center Dallas ordered her clinic to stop giving cross-sex hormones and so-called “puberty-blocking” drugs to children with gender dysphoria.
Lopez claims that UTSW Medical Center abruptly stopped providing the services to new patients in November 2021, and she claims the new policy violates the university’s non-discrimination policy, along with Texas law.
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“Someone, some entity, or some office is illegally attempting to interfere with or control Dr. Lopez’s independent medical judgment,” the petition states, according to NBC 5 DFW. She accuses the center of discriminating against patients on the basis of gender identity.
A UTSW Medical Center spokesperson told the Dallas Morning News that GENECIS – the clinic Lopez founded in 2015 – still evaluates and treats new patients, providing psychological and counseling care, but the clinic has begun referring patients to outside practices if they seek cross-sex hormones or “puberty-blockers.”
“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 medical center explained.
“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,” the statement continued. “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,” the statement added. “UT Southwestern physicians provide pediatric care at Children’s Health facilities through our affiliation agreement.”
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The medical center flatly denied claims of discrimination.
“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,” the center said in a statement. “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.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate instances where Texas children have been subjected to “a wide variety of elective procedures for gender transitioning, including reassignment surgeries that can cause sterilization, mastectomies, removals of otherwise healthy body parts, and administration of puberty-blocking drugs or supraphysiologic doses of testosterone or estrogen.”
That order cited a legal opinion from Attorney General Ken Paxton, R-Texas, which determined that controversial transgender procedures constitute child abuse. The opinion cited numerous doctors and other medical sources, claiming that “there is no evidence that long-term mental health outcomes are improved or that rates of suicide are reduced by hormonal or surgical intervention.”
A judge has granted a temporary restraining order blocking the policy.
While many medical associations have embraced various procedures for kids who identify as transgender and are diagnosed with gender dysphoria (the persistent and painful state of identifying as the gender opposite one’s biological sex), some doctors have warned against the use of hormone treatments that have not been approved for gender dysphoria by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Most hormone treatments “are only FDA approved as puberty blockers in children for the purpose of treating central precocious puberty and not for gender dysphoria,” Dr. Michael Laidlaw, an independent private practice endocrinologist in Rocklin, California, told Fox News in December 2021.
“Central precocious puberty is a medical condition in which a child starts puberty at an abnormally young age, say age 4,” Laidlaw explained. “Medications like Supprelin LA are used to stop this abnormal puberty. Then once the child reaches a typical age for puberty (say age 11 or 12), the medication is stopped, and then normal puberty will resume.”
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“The off-label use of these medications for gender dysphoria is completely different,” the endocrinologist added. “In this case the healthy child has already begun normal puberty. But then the medication is given to block normal puberty. Blocking normal puberty has numerous unhealthy side effects including loss of normal bone development, interference with normal brain and social development, and importantly causes infertility and sexual dysfunction. Many of these effects will be irreversible.”