Dr. John Warner delivered a sombre message to a group of doctors and executives at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center during a tense conference call last November: the only specialty clinic in the state dedicated to treating transgender adolescents was under unrelenting political pressure to close.
In the past, state legislators had made official queries about the clinic, Genecis, which was funded by a public institution and located at the Children’s Medical Center in Dallas. Activism against the clinic’s treatments, which activists refer to as “chemical castration,” had taken place in the office of one of the hospital’s board of directors.
According to a tape of the phone conversation acquired by The New York Times, Dr. Warner, an executive president at the medical centre, stated, “We had a contact from the governor as well, demanding information about the clinic.” “And with that hope came the expectation that something different would occur,” says the author.
“We are running out of time,” he said. “Rather than the converse, the discourse is becoming more intense.”
The clinic was shuttered the next week by hospital administrators, who also took down its website before informing employees or patients of the closure.
As a result of the closure of the clinic, which served approximately 500 patients by 2021, it demonstrates how transgender minor treatment has become a highly contentious issue in Republican-controlled states across the country, with elected officials challenging widely accepted medical practises in a manner reminiscent of the debate over abortion.
However, according to recordings of several phone conversations among hospital executives obtained by The New York Times, executives at U.T. Southwestern were considering closing Genecis months before these actions made national headlines. They were considering closing Genecis because of what they described as “direct outreach” from the governor’s office.
A spokesperson for U.T. Southwestern responded in an emailed response that the governor was not directly engaged in these contacts when questioned about them. The hospital, on the other hand, did not respond to inquiries about whether Mr. Abbott’s office had contacted hospital officials.
There is preliminary evidence that these hormone therapies, which are a component of what is known as “gender affirming” therapy, are beneficial to the mental health of trans youngsters. However, just a few studies have looked at the long-term effects of teenagers who use these drugs, which may potentially have hazards such as fertility loss, in the long run.
Major medical organisations in the United States have backed the provision of gender-affirming treatment. Despite the fact that some experts disagree on which teenagers would benefit the most from such therapies, many others believe that the choice to undergo them should be determined by patients, their parents, and their health-care professionals, rather than the government or the courts.
The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center stated in an emailed statement that new patients might come to the medical centre for consultations and counselling, but that they would be sent to other doctors for hormones or puberty blockers.
When the clinic closed in late November, according to a letter acquired by The New York Times, it was done so that patients and their families may have “a more private, isolated care experience for patients and their families who are seeking gender affirming treatment.”
According to him, restricting medical care for trans teenagers would not alleviate their requirements. “It’s almost as if the mindset is that if you take away the resources, kids would stop being gay,” he added. “However, this does not rule out the possibility of trans children becoming more prevalent.”
The closure of Genecis marked the beginning of a cascade of changes in the state’s approach to transgender youth care. Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, a private nonprofit organisation, halted offering hormone therapy for transgender teenagers last week in response to the attorney general’s judgement that the procedures might be considered child abuse.
A two-week optional course on transgender health was cancelled in February after university administrators requested that any references to the terms “transgender” and “gender dysphoria” be removed from the curriculum and course description, according to emails obtained by the New York Times. Adolescent and young adult transgender care has been renamed “Multidisciplinary Care of Diverse Youth,” replacing “Adolescent and young adult transgender care.”
Two participants engaged in the class said that following the governor’s decision to examine transgender medical treatment for teenagers as child abuse, the institution decided to discontinue providing the medical school optional course entirely. After receiving requests from The Times, the course was resumed on Monday and renamed to reflect its original title.
University of Texas Southwestern said in an emailed statement that the elective had been halted in December “without review or approval by senior institutional leaders,” but that lectures on related topics had been incorporated into a different class on endocrinology and reproductive health that was required for all medical students at the time of the suspension.
If you have concerns regarding why the phrases “transgender” and “gender dysphoria” were deleted from the course material or why the class was restored, please contact the institution directly.