After 2 hospitals in Dallas ceased medical treatment for incoming adolescent transgender patients, the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBTQ rights organization, significantly reduced its ranking in its grading system for health care inclusivity.
In the biennial Healthcare Equality Index 2022, released Monday, Children’s Health and UT Southwestern Medical Center have become the 2 lowest-scoring institutions in Texas.
The “responsible citizenship criteria” sanctions were imposed, according to HRC, since the hospitals ceased providing “essential and legally approved care” to transgender adolescents while continuing to provide the same care to cisgender individuals.
Genecis, which stood for Gender Education and Care, Interdisciplinary Support, was a well-received seven-year-old program developed by the hospitals to offer comprehensive and quality health care to trans and gender-diverse adolescents. It was Texas’ only such program until November 2021, when it ceased giving gender-affirming medical therapy to new patients.
Tari Hanneman, HRC director of health and aging, said that for transgender adolescents, the acts done by UT Southwestern Medical Center and Children’s Medical Center Dallas are life-threatening and necessitated quick action on their side.
UT Southwestern and Children’s Health released a joint statement Monday evening reassuring existing patients that their care will not be affected. New patients are still receiving psychiatric treatment and are being referred to non-affiliated outside clinicians for various medical procedures, they said.
Last year, the Genecis brand became a “lightning rod for criticism,” according to the hospitals, prompting modifications to avoid completely shutting down the program.
As state authorities debate the use of medicinal treatments to address gender dysphoria in adolescents in Texas court, the fate of gender-affirming health care access for trans youngsters is up in the air.
In February, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton released an opinion deeming puberty blockers and hormone therapy for juveniles to be child abuse. Following a temporary injunction, Paxton urged the Texas Supreme Court to allow the state to begin its abuse investigations into the parents of trans youths receiving such care.
Trans children and adolescents should get age-appropriate, customized gender-affirming care, according to all major national and state medical organizations. Medical therapies should only be considered for teenagers who have reached puberty and have had a mental health evaluation, according to best guidelines.
In reaction to Paxton’s judgment, at least one health care facility, Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, halted gender-affirming medical care for its adolescent patients. However, the shift in Genecis’s treatment occurred months before the authorities began examining parents of transgender children.
HRC Removed UT Southwestern And Children’s Health From The Healthcare Equality Index 2020
Due to the program’s termination and a lack of public notification, HRC removed UT Southwestern and Children’s Health from the Healthcare Equality Index 2020 and “top performer” rankings in February.
UT Southwestern and Children’s Health had been rated 95 and 90 out of 100 on the index, respectively, prior to the suspension. The index’s “best performer” title on UT Southwestern’s website was previously used as proof of the university’s commitment to equity and access.
In the most recent index, UT Southwestern received a 50, while Children’s Health received a 75, according to Hanneman.
According to Hanneman, the decision to use such a big deduction was not easy. “We did not rush into enacting this penalty. “At the end of the day, we’d rather not have to do it,” she explained. “We’d rather the ship be righted in terms of giving that treatment.”
Suspending the hospitals from the 2020 index rather than deducting points immediately was done to give HRC time to learn more about the shift in care. In the months leading up to the ban, HRC Foundation senior vice president Jay Brown said the organization sought unsuccessfully to talk to hospitals about Genecis.
In the 15-year history of the biennial rating system, the Dallas hospitals are now two of only three hospitals to ever suffer a 25-point deduction for “known acts that impede LGBTQ equality or patient care.”
According to HRC’s website, Johns Hopkins Hospital received a reduction in the 2018 index for “failure to address HRC’s concerns regarding very upsetting anti-LGBTQ falsehoods stated and published by staff members.”
Only 22 Texas healthcare facilities joined in the 2022 index, a small percentage of the national total of 906 healthcare facilities. With an overall score of 100, nearly 500 facilities were named “LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader” by the index.
One hospital, Methodist Metropolitan Hospital in San Antonio, and three health-care clinics, all of which are located in Austin, achieved flawless grades.