Two hospital leaders have denied that “outside influence”—including from the state government—led to the termination of the gender support GENECIS project at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in November 2021.
They were giving evidence in the Dallas County Court during a legal challenge against the center’s decision brought by Dr. Ximena Lopez, the former director of the project, on April 13.
Lopez believes “outside pressure” from the office of Gov. Greg Abbott contributed to the ending of certain aspects of her gender dysphoria program in late 2021.
Judge Melissa Bellan ruled on April 14 that UT leaders must file online depositions within two weeks.
GENECIS stands for the “Gender Education and Care, Interdisciplinary Support” program.
Lopez filed a 202 petition in March to obtain documents and any communications related to the project. A 202 petition is a legal forerunner of a lawsuit.
She also sought legal approval for UT leaders to be deposed and questioned under oath.
UT Southwestern president Dr. Daniel Podolsky and the hospital’s CEO John J. Warner told Bellan on April 11, that they rescinded some medical treatments in November 2021 from their own considerations and not because of “third party” pressures.
In a letter read by their attorney to the judge, Podolsky and Warner said that no entity or individual “made or directed them” to amend the program.
“The decision was made to suspend the initiating hormone treatment for new pediatric patients as it was believed that if they failed to do so, that it would put then entire GENECIS program in jeopardy,” read the attorney’s letter.
Lopez disputed that account during the hearings, testifying that she was told by hospital leaders that the office of Gov. Greg Abbott pressured hospital administrators to change gender care for some patients.
In November 2021, UT Southwestern discontinued the GENECIS name and began referring new patients seeking puberty blockers and hormone therapy to other providers.
UT Southwestern said in a statement in November 2021, “GENECIS was never a stand-alone clinic and was not ‘closed’ as has been misreported in the media. The decision to remove the GENECIS program branding was made to provide a more private experience for patients and families.”
The Texas Legislature attempted to curtail the use of puberty blockers and hormone therapy during the 2021 session but failed to pass a bill.
On February 21, 2022, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a non-binding opinion that called some medical treatments for minors “child abuse,” according to a post at texasattorneygeneral.gov.
In part of the post, Paxton concluded, “that performing certain ‘sex-change’ procedures on children and prescribing puberty-blockers to them is ‘child abuse’ under Texas law. The holding comes at a critical time when more and more Texans are seeing the horrors that flow from the merging of medicine and misguided ideology.”
Gov. Gregg Abbott followed up Paxton’s opinion with a directive on Feb. 22 to the Texas Department of Child and Family Services.
“The Office of the Attorney General has now confirmed in the enclosed opinion that a number of so-called ‘sex change’ procedures constitute child abuse under existing Texas law.
“Because the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) is responsible for protecting children from abuse, I hereby direct your agency to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation of any reported instances of these abusive procedures in the State of Texas,” Abbott’s letter read.
Since Abbott’s directive, nine investigations have been opened but are stalled as court challenges to the policy are in progress.
A gathering of about 200 people at Southwestern Medical Center during the International Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31, protested against the center’s decision, according to news reports.
UT Southwestern Medical Center said it would not comment on pending litigation.