“We have no choice”: Children’s Hospital disbands gender-affirming care program
The closure of a well-known child gender-affirming care program in Dallas frustrated parents in Texas, who said that their children’s care options were few and far apart-and they didn’t know what would happen next. For children who need similar care.
The plan is operated by the Dallas Children’s Medical Center. After the plan dedicated to this care was dismantled this month and all references to the plan were removed from its website, hormone therapy and puberty blockers will no longer be provided to new patients Waiting for care.
Texas parents living in Dallas, Rio Grande Valley, and Denton told 19th that they don’t know where else to go to get the care their trans children are currently receiving at the center, although the hospital did not say it would stop care For existing patients.
The hospital’s decision to reject new patients made these families worry about the future of local gender-affirming care-this is after they have endured (but unsuccessfully) a proposal for months Legislation aimed at prohibiting this kind of care Transgender children in Texas.
The now-defunct Gender Education and Care, Interdisciplinary Support Program (GENECIS) has been the first and only such program for residents of Texas and surrounding states for many years.
The hospital and UT Southwestern Medical Center jointly run the program in which several medical staff who treat patients with gender dysphoria serve as professors. Spokespersons Rian Russell and Virginia Hock said in a joint statement that they “do not expect any Interruption of care or provision of services to our existing patients.”
The hospital will “accept new patients for diagnosis, including an assessment of gender dysphoria, but will not treat patients with hormones or puberty suppression only for this diagnosis,” Russell said in an email.
The clinic received more than 400 patients in 2017, Local NBC export Reported at the time. One of the staff told on the 19th that the clinic currently has about 500 patients. A hospital spokesperson declined to comment.
Adamalis Vigil drove eight hours from the Rio Grande Valley to Dallas to make appointments for each doctor at the hospital so that she could receive gender-affirming care, she told 19th.
She and 13-year-old Adelyn drive about once every three months. She said that it is difficult to find consultants and any providers who know how to take care of transgender youth in Silicon Valley. Although a local pediatric endocrinologist is available, his resources are limited.
“We did try a few consultants in Silicon Valley, but I have to tell them about transgender-related issues and what Adelyn will face,” Virgil said. “For them, it’s like the first experience. …It makes me feel uncomfortable.”
Rachel Gonzales took her 11-year-old daughter Libby to the hospital for treatment. She said that although her family can get high-quality care in Dallas, there is no other option as comprehensive as the plan. And other departments.
“We have no other choice. I mean, it’s GENECIS,” she said.
When asked why care for new patients was shut down, Russell said in an email statement, “Choosing to cancel this type of care brand provides patients and their families with a more private and isolated experience.”
Medical professionals who worked on the GENECIS project — their affiliation with the gender affirmation program has now been removed from the hospital’s website — did not respond to requests for comment. Several members of the hospital’s leadership team did not respond to calls and emails to comment on the status of the plan and why it was demolished, including UT Southwestern Medical Center Chairman Daniel Podolsky.
When trying to contact Podolski for the first time, he was told on the 19th that he was in a meeting for the rest of the day. Two days later, he was unable to comment again.
Gonzalez member A member of the Transgender Equality Parents Committee of the human rights movement said that she knew other families, such as night watchmen from various places, but she did not know if they had a place to live. Vigil and her daughter used to spend the night at their home, sometimes less than 24 hours after driving.
Vigil estimates that her gas cost to and from GENECIS is about $160. This does not even take food and accommodation costs into account.
GENECIS was the first place where Gonzales and Vigil were able to find gender-affirming care for their daughter. As far as they know, they both started dating before the pandemic.
Amber Briggle lives in Denton with her husband Adam and their son. She said that when their son was 8 years old, the family first started going to GENECIS. He is now 13 years old and will be 14 in February, and they attribute his gender-affirming care to the hospital as one of the reasons he was able to thrive academically and emotionally.
They remember that when they first looked for options for their son—the focus was on mental health resources, because they didn’t want to start hormone therapy when he was young—not much information was available.
“Until recently, parents of transgender children have practical and precious resources on the Internet to guide them to provide the best care for their children. …Five or six years ago, there was almost nothing there,” she said .
If her son can’t use GENECIS, Briggle says, “I really don’t know where else we can go or what we will do.”
When asked what mental health services the hospital still provides in addition to new patients diagnosed with gender dysphoria, the hospital’s spokesperson did not respond.
Vigil said that when they found a doctor who could help, her daughter’s anxiety level improved so much that her panic attacks were now almost gone.
“Before getting health care services, she was worried about how to get help before puberty. That was her worst nightmare,” Vigil said.
Advocates believe that gender affirmative care is essential to transgender children for many reasons, including transgender and non-binary youths are more likely Fight anxiety and depression, with Suicidal ideation. It turns out that when a family Support their social transformation, When transgender children have Obtain a puberty blocker with Hormone Therapy.
Children who received one year of hormone therapy through GENECIS reported that their dissatisfaction with the body improved greatly, and the symptoms of depression also improved slightly to moderate. Project leader’s research Published in the American Academy of Pediatrics in March 2020.
Giving up gender-affirming care when needed “may have tragic consequences for physical and mental health”, American Medical Association In April of this year, he expressed his protest against the implementation of the anti-transgender bill across the country.
GENECIS does not provide any gender confirmation surgery for its young patients, because minor surgery is rare Standard of care Experts from the World Association of Transgender Health Professionals stated that genital surgery should not be performed until the patient has reached the age of 18 or reached the legal age in their country/region.
“It would be wrong to close this clinic for new patients,” said Steve Rosenthal, medical director of the Children and Adolescent Gender Center at the Benioff Children’s Hospital at the University of California, San Francisco. Board member of WPATH; former chairman of Pediatric Endocrinology Society.
He said the decision negated the potentially life-saving care standards set by all major professional associations working in this field.
When co-founded California Gender ClinicStarting to receive patients in 2012, Rosenthal recalled seeing patients from Alaska, Florida, and even an American family living in Saudi Arabia.
“Maybe some of them will have to travel long distances, or may not be able to organize to receive care,” he said, reflecting on patients seeking gender-affirming care in Texas.
Ximena Lopez, former medical director of GENECIS, The idea of ??the program is formed After treating several young patients who were diagnosed with gender dysphoria, she Metropolis written in the first person 2016 paper. According to the website pages deleted by the hospital, the clinic opened in 2015. “As soon as we opened the door, patients started coming,” Lopez wrote, saying that the work includes patients as young as 4 and as young as 17 years old. As of 2016, the project had more than 200 referrals from border states and cities, she wrote at the time, across Texas, including San Antonio, Houston, and Austin.
“Parents think you are saving their children, and these patients think you are saving them,” Lopez said at the time. Lopez declined to be interviewed about the status of her work and projects.
According to reports, the number of patients treated by the clinic after its launch exceeded initial expectations. 2017 data Worked by Lopez and other medical professionals in the clinic of the Fairness and Diversity Conference at the University of North Texas.
According to the introduction, the Gender Affirmation Program received at least 20 referrals a month after it was opened for less than a year. It also explored the insurance coverage barriers of some patients and unexpected support from family members and the community.
Resources for transgender youth and their families have now been removed from the hospital website, including links to PFLAG, Trevor Project, Lambda Legal, and the Texas Transgender Education Network.
The plan’s removal from the website caused confusion when families living in Texas were already on the verge of fighting for their children’s ability to obtain gender-affirming care in the state legislature. Republican Governor Greg Abbott Sign the ban After making legislation a priority for several special meetings, transgender children participated in school sports activities in October.
The shutdown of GENECIS also happened after the local militant group saved the children of Texas Protest against Critical Race Theory, Organized a protest outside the home of at least one hospital board member to lobby for the closure of the hospital, as shown in several Facebook posts by the organization.
“This is really nerve-wracking,” Virgil said. “It feels endless. … They keep coming at us from all directions, and they keep attacking these children.”
“We are just tired,” Gonzalez said. “Just waiting to hear what happens is a terrible place, because your kids will expect you to figure out what their next step is. And I’m not sure if I know what the next step is.”
Briggle said that she is worried that the hospital will not see new patients, especially when she thinks about the transgender children who have recently come out to their parents, and they cannot bear another day of puberty. She said that those parents who supported them are now unable to provide their children with the care they need at GENECIS.
She also worries about children dropping out of the program after the age of 18—and what will happen to the future of gender-affirming care in Dallas Hospital after that. As the number of patients is reduced and medical personnel are not required, she is worried that all services provided by the plan will be completely cut.
After all, Brig wanted to know why. “This is vital care,” she said. “There is a need. They just stop? From a medical point of view, why they would do this is meaningless.”