Texas attorney general targets Georgia clinic in another attempt to obtain private medical records of transgender youth

In another attempt to obtain the private medical records of transgender youth, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is requesting the records of Texan minors from a Georgia-based telehealth clinic, the clinic’s founder says.

Paxton sent a letter late last year to QueerMed, a clinic providing hormone therapy and other services for transgender and nonbinary people, requesting the medical records of minors who received care from the clinic – including information protected by health privacy laws, QueerMed founder Dr. Izzy Lowell told CNN.

Paxton’s office requested about two years’ worth of data dating to January 1, 2022, which is before Texas’ ban on gender-affirming care for most minors went into effect last September, Lowell said.

In a statement, QueerMed said “under no circumstances” will it disclose protected patient information.

“This request appears to be a deliberate effort to deter healthcare providers who offer gender-affirming care, as well as the families and individuals who seek such services beyond the confines of Texas and other states where prohibitive legislation exists,” the clinic’s statement said.

CNN has reached out to Paxton’s office for comment.

Paxton’s office made a similar request of Seattle Children’s Hospital last year for “documents and information” about Texas residents treated by the hospital and “physicians associated with” the hospital.

In response, the hospital filed a petition in Travis County, Texas, saying it is prohibited from sharing the information by Washington law, noting “the demands represent an unconstitutional attempt to investigate and chill potential interstate commerce and travel for Texas residents seeking care in another state.”

Paxton has joined a group of mainly Republican officials across the nation who are aggressively working to narrow access to gender-affirming care for transgender youth.

That care is often deemed medically necessary by providers who have found themselves squarely in the crosshairs of Texas’ Senate Bill 14, which threatens the medical licenses of those who give gender-transition surgeries, puberty-blocking medication or hormone therapies to those under 18.

The Texas Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments Tuesday in a constitutional challenge to that ban brought by parents, doctors and advocates.

QueerMed was seeing a handful of minors in Texas before September 2023, and none since, Lowell said. “People have to leave Texas to get care,” Lowell said, noting that is not possible for many families.

Attacks on health care for transgender youth

QueerMed provides care in over 26 states, and the bans, Lowell said, have made her job “logistically impossible.”

“My job is no longer seeing patients. Now, I just monitor all of the laws that are changing every day in every state,” she said.

Twenty-two states have banned gender-affirming care for youth, as of September 2023, according to the Human Rights Campaign. The LGBTQ advocacy group estimates three in 10 trans youth ages 13 to 17 were living in states with legislative bans on gender affirming care as of November.

“It’s terrifying for everyone in the country what’s happening to trans people and providers trying to help them,” Lowell said.

Major medical associations – including the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry – agree that gender-affirming care is evidence-based and medically necessary for many children and adults.

LGBTQ advocates around the nation are working to prevent or challenge the bans, including the ACLU, which reports it has filed at least a dozen legal challenges against bans on care for transgender youth.

Groups including Campaign for Southern Equality that have rallied to provide resources to families impacted by the laws around transgender health care warn “overcompliance” is compounding the harmful impact of the laws.

The organization said providers are denying people medical care even when they are not legally required to do so because the laws are “intentionally vague,” and the consequences for breaking them are so drastic.

Lowell said the barrage of legal attacks on health care for transgender people has left patients and providers in a state of terror.

“When are they going to attack the next group of trans people? When are more rights going to get taken away?” Lowell said.

CNN’s Melissa Alonso contributed to this report.

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