Seattle Hospital Takes Legal Action Against Texas Attorney General Over Request for Gender-Affirming Care Records of Texans


The office of the Texas attorney general wants Seattle Children’s Hospital to hand over medical records of Texas residents who may have gotten gender-affirming care at the hospital. This month, the hospital sued the attorney general.

A consumer protection division under the office of the attorney general is looking into whether Seattle Children’s and doctors who work there may have broken Texas’ Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act. The division is looking into “misrepresentations regarding Gender Transitioning Treatments and Procedures and Texas law,” according to subpoenas sent to the hospital.

The subpoenas, which were sent out on November 17, ask the hospital to give information about any minors from Texas who were treated starting on January 1, 2022. This includes information about gender-related problems and care.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Attorney General Ken Paxton, and the state GOP have been working for years to get rid of gender-affirming care for kids in the state. This has caused some families with transgender children to move to states like Washington.

In Washington, care options that confirm a child’s gender, like puberty blockers, hormone therapy, and some surgeries, are allowed for minors. In September, Texas made these options illegal by passing Senate Bill 14. Abbott told Child Protective Services to look into the families of transgender children who were said to be getting hormone treatment or drugs to stop puberty long before that law went into effect.

Susan moved her family from Austin to Seattle in May with her transgender daughter. She said hearing that the Texas attorney general’s office is looking into the Seattle hospital “brings back a lot of bad memories.”

“They won’t be able to go after providers for helping people who moved to a new state,” the mom, who only wanted to be known by her first name for fear of being hurt, said. “That just seems like a really big stretch.” It’s still scary, though, and it doesn’t make me feel better about my fear that Texas will never let us be free.

The hospital’s lawyers say in a lawsuit filed Dec. 7 in a Travis County District Court that Texas courts and officials do not have the power to subpoena the health care system in Washington, D.C. The letter says that even though Seattle Children’s is licensed to do business in Texas, the people working there are not clinical staff but rather administrative staff who do their jobs from home.

The hospital’s filing says that Seattle Children’s does not offer gender-affirming care in Texas or provide online for that care to patients in Texas. The hospital also does not promote its gender-affirming services in Texas.

The lawsuit also says that the attorney general’s subpoena would force the hospital and its employees to break federal privacy laws that limit the release of medical records and Washington’s “Shield Law,” which says that providers of reproductive and gender care can’t help other states go after criminal and civil penalties.

The hospital says in the filing that the requests for information “represent an unconstitutional attempt to investigate and chill potential interstate commerce and travel for Texas residents seeking care in another state.”

The hospital asked the court to either refuse Paxton’s request or, if that wasn’t possible, to limit the information that was being asked for in the order.

The Texas Attorney General asked Seattle Children’s to take legal action to protect private patient information about gender-affirming care services at our group. The hospital told the American-Statesman in an email that they did so. “Seattle Children’s complies with the law for all health care services provided.”

The subpoenas were issued by Paxton as civil investigative demands. This type of demand lets the state’s Consumer Protection Agency ask a company or person that they think has broken state trade or consumer practice laws for information.

The subpoenas were sent out by the attorney general’s office less than two months after SB 14 became law in Texas. This law stops doctors from giving certain gender-affirming medical treatments to minors who are experiencing gender dysphoria, which is when a person’s gender identity doesn’t match their sex at birth. These treatments include hormone therapy, certain surgeries, and drugs that block puberty.

In May, before SB 14 was passed by the Legislature, Paxton started looking into Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin for possible violations of state law or false statements about care for gender-transitioning children. His orders to Seattle Children’s Hospital make it look like he might be looking into other hospitals as well.

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