Adolescent medicine doctors out at Dell Children's amid Paxton probe of gender-affirming care
All doctors staffing Dell Children’s adolescent medicine clinic are departing after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced an investigation into whether gender-affirming care procedures were “unlawfully performed on minor children” at the hospital.
Dell Children's Medical Center said in an emailed statement that the clinic would remain open with different physicians staffing the practice. It did not specify the reason for the shake-up, and it was unclear whether the doctors were fired or left voluntarily.
“We are working with our staff, families, and other providers to ensure our patients’ safety and make sure we are helping families connect with the appropriate healthcare services,” Dell Children’s representatives said. “While the physicians who previously staffed the clinic will be departing, the clinic remains open and supported by other physicians within Dell Children’s Medical Group.”
In an initial statement responding to Paxton’s announcement, Dell Children’s said that it prohibited both surgery and hormone therapy when treating minor patients with gender dysphoria.
“To the extent that care provided at our clinic may have been inconsistent with our organization’s position on this important issue, we intend to take appropriate action,” the hospital said.
The shakeup comes as the Texas House of Representatives considers Senate Bill 14, a bill that would outlaw gender-affirming care for minors, such as surgery and hormone blockers.
In February last year, Paxton released a legal opinion classifying certain gender-affirming care procedures as child abuse under Texas law and ordering the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate parents who seek gender-affirming care for their children. Multiple investigations of this nature remain tied up in court.
In the week following Paxton’s announcement, Dell Children’s patients and their families began hearing that appointments with the hospital’s adolescent medicine specialists had been canceled and that their providers no longer worked at the hospital.
One patient, a 19-year-old named Leonardo, received a call from his social worker on the day Paxton announced his investigation. Leonardo says he began receiving hormone treatments from the clinic at 17. The social worker told him that his care providers were leaving the clinic and he would need to seek care elsewhere.
Now searching for a new clinic, Leonardo says he is faced with long waits and has concerns about whether he will find a new provider before his prescription for testosterone expires — a concern he hears mirrored by other transgender young adults as they watch SB 14’s progression. He and his peers fear more clinics geared toward adolescents will close, diminishing access to care for both children and adults.
“If we’re all flooding in and [the wait] is already three to six months, where are we going to get our care?” he said.
While Leonardo received gender-affirming care at the clinic, it offers treatment for a variety of other medical conditions, including anxiety and depression, eating disorders, reproductive health, nutrition, and growth concerns, among others.
Elizabeth Doyle, 25, has received eating disorder treatment at the clinic since 2021. She said she was alerted that there could be disruptions in care at Dell Children’s on Thursday, ahead of a scheduled Tuesday appointment. A care provider she sees at a different practice told Doyle to check in with the clinic.
“She said, ‘OK, yeah, I don’t think that appointment is going to happen,’” Doyle said.
When Doyle checked her online appointment portal, any record of the appointment had disappeared. She said multiple calls and voicemails to the office have gone unanswered. Now, Doyle says she is in limbo as she weighs whether to seek out a new care provider.
“It's really devastating that I carefully handpicked people that can care for me and my whole body—and these were some of those people—and now I have to go through the process of finding other providers that meet those same qualifications,” she said.
Clarification: An earlier version of this story said the doctors were dismissed. It's unclear whether they were fired or left voluntarily.
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