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Leading pediatric ‘gender-affirming care’ doctor leaving university hospital, Texas following state treatment ban

New Texas law prohibits minors from receiving ‘procedures and treatments for gender transitioning’

Reacting to Texas legislation banning minor transgender treatments, a prominent “trans-affirming care” doctor said she would leave the state.

“Effective July 31, 2023, Ximena Lopez, M.D. will be closing her practice at UT Southwestern Medical Center,” according to a statement posted to Lopez’s professional page on the UT Southwestern Medical Center website.

Dr. Lopez, an associate professor and pediatric endocrinologist, announced her departure in May, when the Texas bill was still in the Senate, according to The Dallas Morning News.

The College Fix reached out to Lopez for comment but has not received a response.

The legislation, formerly known as Senate Bill 14 and signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott on June 2, prohibits minors from accessing “procedures and treatments for gender transitioning, gender reassignment, or gender dysphoria” and the use of “public money or public assistance” to fund those treatments.

Children undergoing these treatments must “wean off” in a “manner that is safe and medically appropriate and that minimizes the risk of complications.”

“Children in Texas are officially protected from harmful, experimental medical and surgical treatments for gender dysphoria,” Republican Rep. Tom Oliverson, a medical doctor and author of the House’s version of SB 14, said in a June 3 tweet.

“Thank you for signing SB14 @GovAbbott. We knew there would be court challenges. SB14 was written with that in mind and will prevail.”

Lopez became ‘one of the most visible faces in the fight over gender-affirming medical care’

Lopez told CBC News that offering “gender-affirming care to transgender youth” is her “passion” in a video about her departure posted in late June.

“That been one of the most important things I’ve done in my life,” she said.

“It’s become impossible to do that safely,” she continued.

“People that have gone to protest against me or our clinic, some of them have been armed,” she said.

“I’m afraid of leaving my son home alone, and I don’t want to live like that,” she added.

Lopez formerly headed up the Gender Education and Care, Interdisciplinary Support, a program for transgender youth operated jointly by Children’s Medical Center Dallas and UT Southwestern Medical Center, The Dallas Morning News reported May 19.

She “has become one of the most visible faces in the fight over gender-affirming medical care,” and is moving to California, according to The News.

“This is lifesaving care,” Lopez told Lopez told KERA News, a North Texas outlet. “It’s like denying care to somebody who has cancer. You can save their life with chemotherapy, but you’re going to tell them, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t do this.’ That’s how it will feel.”

Lopez’s Gender Education and Care, Interdisciplinary Support program operated as a “clinic” for children with gender dysphoria, KERA News reported.

“Our job is to really thoroughly investigate the insistency of the gender dysphoria – how strongly the child or adolescent feels that; the consistency – how stable it’s been over time; and then the persistency – how long has it lasted,” Lopez said. “And based on those three factors … we try to make a recommendation about whether medical intervention seems like a reasonable next step.”

The “medical intervention” Lopez speaks of “typically involves medication that blocks puberty blockers” to “buy the child and therapist time,” according to the article.

GENECIS shut down in November 2021 as “legal challenges to hormone therapy as a component of care for minors treated for gender dysphoria gain[ed]momentum in Texas and elsewhere,” according to a joint statement from UT Southwestern and Children’s Health.

The disbandment “discontinued enrollment of new patients into puberty suppression therapy for the indication of gender dysphoria” while existing patients could continue receiving treatment, the statement continued.

“After legislative hearings last year brought additional scrutiny of our care, the GENECIS brand became a lightning rod for the controversy over hormone therapy for gender dysphoria,” it added.

Lopez filed a lawsuit in March 2022 against Children’s Medical Center in Dallas for “shutting down operations to new patients” at GENECIS, located at the hospital and operated by it and UT Southwestern Medical Center, The Texas Tribune reported May 23.

The Fix reached out to UT Southwestern and Children’s Medical Center for comment but has not received a response.

In May 2022, Dallas County Court-at-Law Judge Melissa Bellan allowed a temporary injunction releasing restrictions on GENECIS until April 18, The Tribune reported.

The Human Rights Campaign had also penalized the Children’s Medical Center and UT Southwestern for their decisions regarding “trans-affirming care,” giving both facilities a 25-point deduction in the campaign’s Health Equality Index in 2022.

The deduction was due to the closure of GENECIS and for “discrimination” toward “transgender youth.”

In the Health Equality Index 2022, “both UT Southwestern and Children’s Health in Dallas have had this major penalty applied to their HEI scores because they are denying necessary and medically approved care to transgender youth while continuing the same care for cisgender youth,” according to a statement from HRC.

MORE: Texas authorities investigate med school over child transgender procedures

IMAGE: Human Rights Campaign/YouTube

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Haika Mrema studies marketing at Baylor University. She serves as her college chapter's vice president for the Network of Enlightened Women and is a campus correspondent for Campus Reform.