Trans teens suddenly lose care as Texas attorney general investigates Austin hospital

Teenagers who were getting transition-related medical care in Texas learned this week they would no longer have access to their doctor, as the Austin hospital where the treatment was taking place is under scrutiny from state officials as part of their efforts to crack down on trans healthcare.

Families told The Texas Tribune the news came suddenly that the Dell Children’s Medical Center would no longer be offering previously planned treatments like puberty blockers, sending them scrambling to find new providers in a state where trans medical care is few and far between. The hospital confirmed in a statement to the Tribune that “the physicians who previously staffed the clinic will be departing.”

Some have even considered moving rather than cutting off care, one parent told the outlet.

“The last couple days have been going through the feelings of not wanting to leave a home and a community and schools that we love,” a mother, who asked not to use her name for safety reasons, said. “But then how much stress would be lifted and what a relief it would be to be in a place where this wasn’t a question — that part, I think, can’t be underestimated.”

Earlier this month, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced an investigation into the facility, claiming potentially illegal conduct was taking place, though he didn’t specify any allegations or lay out which laws would be violated.

“It is deeply disturbing, and there is no place for it in Texas,” he said.

The announcement of the investigation came shortly after a video was released by Project Veritas, a far-right group known for using deceptive editing to produce hidden-camera “sting” videos against liberal causes, which claimed the hospital was offering gender-affirming care to children as young as eight years old.

“Our organization prohibits surgery and prescribing hormone therapy for the treatment of gender dysphoria for children,” the hospital said in a statement to NBC News. “While our pediatric and adolescent medicine clinics do not provide these interventions, we do provide a safe and welcoming place for children to receive other forms of primary care and treatment, including treatment of illness and injuries, well baby visits, and school physicals.”

The state is attempting to ban gender-affirming care for anyone under 18.

Last year, the governor of Texas, acting on an opinion from the attorney general, directed state officials to investigate gender-affirming care as child abuse.

Texas is one of a number of conservative states across the country seeking to limit or entirely ban gender-affirming care for transgender people, which often acts as a lifeline for a deeply marginalised population that suffers from high rates of mental health struggles and suicide.