Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton requested the medical records of Texas trans youth who sought gender-affirming care from a Georgia-based telehealth clinic last week, escalating an invasive campaign that has alarmed many advocates.
The Georgia clinic, QueerMed, confirmed last week to the Houston Chronicle that it received Paxton’s request for data well before the clinic stopped providing care for youth when the state passed its ban on gender-affirming care last year. A separate report from The Texas Tribune noted that Paxton sought data about patients back in January 2022.
“I’m not breaking any laws,” Dr. Izzy Lowell, the founder of QueerMed, told the Houston Chronicle. “We are doing everything by the book according to state law.”
This is the second time Paxton has tried to get information about out-of-state providers of gender-affirming care. The state attorney general sent a similar request to Seattle Children’s Hospital in November last year.
Paxton requested a broad array of data from the hospital, including patient diagnoses, medications, laboratory testing and treatment.
Over the past few years, Republican attorneys general across the country have sought patient medical records related to gender-affirming care and abortion care, a move that many advocates say not only sows confusion and fear among patients but is an overreach of governmental power.
Most notably, last year, Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti opened an investigation into Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s transgender health clinic after a right-wing media personality pushed false information about the clinic.
The Seattle Children’s Hospital sued Paxton in December, arguing that he cannot assert general jurisdiction over the Washington state hospital because it does not conduct business, advertise for gender-affirming care or have any physical presence in the state of Texas, according to a court document obtained by The Texas Tribune.
Paxton has a history of leveraging his powers as attorney general to promote an anti-LGBTQ+ agenda. Since 2022, he has investigated providers of gender-affirming care in the state of Texas and beyond, probed pharmaceutical companies that manufacture puberty blockers and sought data on the number of Texans who changed their gender on their state driver’s licenses and other state records.
The Republican attorney general’s strategy follows the state’s GOP-led effort to ban transgender youth from accessing health care, block trans girls from participating in sports and a slew of other anti-LGBTQ+ laws amid a nationwide surge of legislation barring queer and trans people’s access to bathrooms, sports, healthcare and other facets of public life.
Last year, Texas lawmakers passed Senate Bill 14, which bans trans youth from accessing puberty blockers and hormone replacement therapy. The law went into effect in September after Paxton appealed a ruling from a district court judge that had temporarily blocked the ban.
On Tuesday, the Texas Supreme Court will hear oral argumentsby parents, doctors and legal advocates in a constitutional challenge to SB 14.
“To hear that Ken Paxton is stalking families with trans kids, even as they move and travel across the country — that’s far beyond the scope of his authority,” Johnathan Gooch, the communications director at Equality Texas, told HuffPost. “He can’t impose Texas laws on other states.”