LGBTQ+ advocacy group sues Texas AG, says it won't identify transgender families

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A national LGBTQ+ advocacy group is suing the Texas Attorney General's office rather than hand over information about its support of transgender children receiving gender-confirming medical care.

According to the lawsuit filed Wednesday in Texas court, PFLAG National says Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton's office is demanding "documents and communications" related to a sworn statement the group's CEO Brian Bond provided to a court last year while opposing the state's transgender youth medical care ban.

Bond's statement at the time detailed how many PFLAG members had set up contingency plans should their child's medical care be cut off, ranging from finding resources to move out of state to finding alternative care inside Texas. Bond's affidavit was submitted shortly after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a sweeping gender-affirming care ban for minors.

The lawsuit alleges that the attorney general is "seeking to determine which Texas families are seeking to access gender-affirming care for their transgender adolescents."

PFLAG is asking the state court to block Paxton's request.

"This mean-spirited demand from the Attorney General's Office is petty and invasive, which is why we want the court to put an end to it," Bond said in a statement.

Texas has a history of battling PFLAG in court. The state in 2022 adopted a policy of investigating families of transgender children who have received gender-affirming care as child abuse cases. Later that year, a judge blocked the investigations against the families and barred any similar investigations against members of PFLAG.

PFLAG says the attorney general is improperly using a state consumer protection law — which does include a provision prohibiting misrepresentation surrounding transgender medical procedures — to justify their information requests, which they claim is wrong because their group does not provide gender-affirming services.

According to the civil investigative demand letter sent to PFLAG on Feb. 9, Paxton's office said "the division believes you are in possession, custody or control of documentary material relevant to the subject matter of an investigation of actual or possible violation" of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protect Act.

The letter seeks documents dating back to when the state's gender-affirming care ban minors, known as SB 14, went into effect in June 2023.

In a statement, Paxton said PFLAG appears to have "significant information about persons or practitioners" violating the law.

"Texas passed SB 14 to protect children from damaging, unproven medical interventions with catastrophic lifelong consequences for their health," Paxton said. "Any organization seeking to violate this law, commit fraud, or weaponize science and medicine against children will be held accountable."

Currently, Texas is one of at least 23 states that has adopted a ban on gender-affirming care for minors in recent years.

The bans generally mean that people under 18 have to go to another state for puberty blocker or hormone therapy —- or stop treatment. They also ban gender-affirming surgeries for minors, but those are exceptionally rare for those under 18.

The group's lawsuit alleges that Paxton's latest request is a direct response to their continued defense of transgender youth.

"These demands are a clear and unmistakable overreach by the (Office of the Attorney General) in retaliation for PFLAG successfully standing up for its members, who include Texas transgender youth and their families, against the OAG's, the Attorney General's, and the State of Texas's relentless campaign to persecute Texas trans youth and their loving parents," the lawsuit states.

Since last year, Texas has also demanded records from at least two out-of-state health centers that provide gender-affirming care.

Seattle Children's Hospital disclosed in court filings that it received a demand in November. The Washington state attorney general's office has intervened, invoking for the first time a 2023 law that blocks people in Washington from cooperating with criminal or civil investigations by officials in other states related to gender-affirming care or abortion.

QueerMed, a Georgia-based online telemedicine provider of gender-affirming care, has said it too received a request and would not comply. The organization says it does not treat patients in Texas.