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News / Health

Seattle hospital won’t turn over gender-affirming care records in lawsuit settlement with Texas

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is dropping records request

By JAMIE STENGLE, Associated Press
Published: April 23, 2024, 7:29am

DALLAS (AP) — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is dropping a request for a Seattle hospital to hand over records regarding gender-affirming treatment potentially given to children from Texas as part of a lawsuit settlement announced Monday.

Seattle Children’s Hospital filed the lawsuit against Paxton’s office in December in response to the Republican appearing to go beyond state borders to investigate transgender health care. Paxton, a staunch conservative who has helped drive GOP efforts that target the rights of trans people, sent similar letters to Texas hospitals last year.

The Seattle hospital said in a statement that it had “successfully fought” the “overreaching demands to obtain confidential patient information.” A judge in Austin dismissed the lawsuit Friday, saying the parties had settled their dispute.

Texas is among states that have enacted laws restricting or banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors.

The hospital’s lawsuit included a copy of the letter from Paxton’s office, which among other requests asked the hospital to produce records identifying medication given to children who live in Texas; the number of Texas children who received treatment; and documents that identified the “standard protocol or guidance” used for treatment.

As part of the settlement, according to court records, the parties agreed that Seattle Children’s Hospital would withdraw its registration to transact business in Texas. But a hospital spokesperson said in a statement that they don’t operate health care facilities or provide gender-affirming care in Texas.

In court records, the hospital had previously stated that it had a “limited number” of people who work remotely and live in Texas but that none were involved in gender-affirming care. It also said it did not advertise its services in Texas.

“When we merely began asking questions, they decided to leave the State of Texas and forfeit the opportunity to do business here,” Paxton said in a news release Monday. He said Texas will “vigorously protect” children from gender-affirming treatment that he called “damaging.”

The Texas law prevents transgender minors from accessing hormone therapies, puberty blockers and transition surgeries, even though medical experts say such surgical procedures are rarely performed on children.

In Washington, Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee has signed a law that aims to protects minors seeking gender-affirming care there, part of a wave of legislation in Democratic-led states intended to give refuge to those seeking gender-affirming treatment.

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