DALLAS – March 28, 2022 – As public debate over hormone therapy for gender dysphoria for minors continues, and after hearing concerns from some members of our campus, we are writing to clarify the actions taken by UT Southwestern and Children’s Health to preserve overall gender-affirming care for youths and also to address misunderstanding of those decisions by some.
Last November, with legal challenges to hormone therapy as a component of care for minors treated for gender dysphoria gaining momentum in Texas and elsewhere, UT Southwestern and Children’s Health suspended initiating this treatment for new patients, believing that a failure to act would put the entire program in jeopardy. As we emphasized at that time, the care of existing patients would be unchanged and new patients would still have continued access to the broader array of gender-affirming care we provide, particularly the psychiatric care considered foundational to gender transition and other front-line services necessary for evaluation of potential gender dysphoria.
In taking these actions, Children’s Health and UT Southwestern weighed the momentum of opposition to hormone therapy for gender dysphoria for minors – and efforts to curtail it – against the unquestioned need for our other gender-affirming care efforts and decided to focus on these important services. Though we discontinued enrollment of new patients into puberty suppression therapy for the indication of gender dysphoria, families and patients seeking hormone therapy for gender dysphoria have access to outside practitioners not affiliated with a public institution that is ultimately accountable to the state and which, inevitably, must consider conflicting public viewpoints.
Although GENECIS served as a coordinating brand for our pediatric transgender services, contrary to what has been reported, it was never a standalone clinic. 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, and we made the joint decision to remove the branding so we could care for our patients in a more protective environment. In contrast to how this has been characterized by some, no clinic has been closed, and we continue to accept new patients referred for potential gender dysphoria.
In light of the heightened focus on our gender-affirming care services, however, we concluded that without some modifications in our provision of these treatments, we risked the possibility of having to shut down our program entirely and catalyzing action that would lead to their ban statewide – similar to prohibitions that have already occurred in two other states (with comparable legislation pending in many more). Indeed, a bill to that effect was filed in last year’s regular session of the Texas Legislature.
To be clear: UT Southwestern physicians are currently providing gender-affirming care to both youths and adults. Our clinics for youths experiencing or needing evaluation for gender dysphoria were never closed and have been actively accepting new patients. We continue to provide evaluations for gender dysphoria in youths, continue to provide psychiatric care for gender transition, and continue the coordination of these services.
Whatever the result of ongoing legal battles and future legislative action, it is evident the debate over the appropriate age of consent for hormone treatments, calls for additional medical reviews and study, and uncertainty about the role of public institutions in providing this care will continue for some time. While these discussions play out, we remain firm in our commitment to provide care for patients of all ages, beliefs, backgrounds, and identities. That remains our focus today and always.
Joint statement from Children’s Health and UT Southwestern