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Texas DAs push back on health care order for trans youths from Abbott and Paxton

Christopher Connelly
Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot is one of five Democratic DAs in Texas who oppose edicts on health care for trans youth.

Dallas County Criminal District Attorney John Creuzot and other Democratic DAs around Texas are pushing back against recent edicts on health care for trans youth from Gov. Greg Abbott and state Attorney General Ken Paxton, both Republicans.

“Elected officials should be protecting our most vulnerable,” Creuzot and the other DAs said in a statement. “These two, instead, want to irrationally target and restrain children seeking medical assistance — and force caregivers to participate.”

Creuzot was joined by DAs in Travis, Bexar, Nueces, and Fort Bend counties.

Earlier this week, in a nonbinding legal opinion, Paxton declared gender-affirming medical care for youth was “child abuse” and said it must stop. Abbott followed with an order on Wednesday directing the state Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate reports of these procedures.

“Texas law imposes reporting requirements upon all licensed professionals who have direct contact with children who may be subject to such abuse, including doctors, nurses, and teachers, and provides criminal penalties for failure to report such child abuse,” Abbott wrote.

The Dallas Morning News reports state agencies follow opinions from the attorney general, although a judge may ultimately decide what is legal.

Both Abbott and Paxton are facing primaries for reelection. One of Abbott’s rivals, former state Sen. Don Huffines, has been running to the right of the governor on issues related to trans children. His complaints about resources for LGBTQ youth on the DFPS website led to the agency removing them last year, the Houston Chroniclereported.

Creuzot and other district attorneys are charged with prosecuting cases against people who break the law, although they have significant discretion in which cases to pursue.

In their statement, the DAs said they would “enforce the Constitution and will not irrationally and unjustifiably interfere with medical decisions made between children, their parents, and their medical physicians.”

Advocacy groups like Human Rights Campaign reiterated that Paxton’s opinion is not legally binding and said it would be very difficult to win a legal fight over his interpretation.

“This is very clearly the government taking an action because of dislike, misunderstanding, disapproval of a specific group of people,” said HRC Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley. “This is not about facts. And the facts matter when it comes to that conversation about whether or not it’s discrimination.”

Major LGBTQ advocacy and health care groups have condemned the statements of the governor and attorney general. They say state leaders are making false claims about medical best practices and instilling fear in trans children and their parents.

“Not only are people ignoring the published science but they’re also completely misrepresenting things,” said Stephen Rosenthal, a pediatric endocrinologist at UC-San Francisco. “That contributes to the distress that a lot of people are experiencing.”

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Got a tip? Email Bret Jaspers at You can follow Bret on Twitter @bretjaspers.

Bret Jaspers is a reporter for KERA. His stories have aired nationally on the BBC, NPR’s newsmagazines, and APM’s Marketplace. He collaborated on the series Cash Flows, which won a 2020 Sigma Delta Chi award for Radio Investigative Reporting. He's a member of Actors' Equity, the professional stage actors union.