Two of UT Southwestern Medical Center’s top leaders will be questioned under oath about a decision to halt certain medical care for transgender youth, a Dallas County judge ruled Thursday.
UT Southwestern President Dr. Daniel Podolsky and Hospitals CEO Dr. John Warner must sit for online depositions within the next two weeks, according to the order signed by Judge Melissa Bellan.
Bellan’s decision was a huge win for Dr. Ximena Lopez, a UT Southwestern doctor who formerly led a program for transgender youth. She filed a 202 petition, a precursor to a lawsuit, in March seeking approval to question the hospital leaders under oath, as well as documents and communications, explaining why her employers decided to halt certain gender-affirming medical treatments for new adolescent patients at Genecis .
Genecis, an acclaimed program for transgender youth run by UT Southwestern and Children’s Health, underwent significant changes in November when the hospitals dropped the program’s branding and stopped providing some treatments like puberty blockers and hormone therapy to incoming transgender patients.
UT Southwestern may appeal Bellan’s decision to a higher court.
Bellan sided with the university in deciding Podolsky and Warner need not turn over communications with other employees or elected officials regarding the change in care.
Lopez’s lawyer declined to discuss the decision Thursday. UT Southwestern has not responded yet to a request for comment.
The hospitals have cited “media attention and political and scientific controversy” in their decision to halt certain care for new transgender patients. At a hearing Monday, Lopez tested that she was told by hospital leaders that the office of Gov. Greg Abbott pressured the hospital administrators to change the gender-affirming care offered for new patients.
On Wednesday, Podolsky and Warner told Bellan in signed affidavits that no “third party” entity or individual “made or directed them” to make changes to Genecis. The letter was an attempt to forego explaining the decision in depositions.
“The decision was made to suspend initiating hormone treatment for new pediatric patients as it was believed that if they failed to do so that it would put the entire GENECIS program in jeopardy,” their lawyer wrote.
Conservative state lawmakers have increasingly targeted access to certain medical treatments in recent years. During the 2021 session, legislators tried but failed to ban such treatments.
Then in February, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a nonbinding opinion that classified certain medical treatments for transgender minors as child abuse. Abbott, citing this opinion, directed child protective services to investigate any allegations of youth undergoing such treatments.
The state has initiated at least nine investigations since then, but the probes are on hold as the parents of a transgender teenager fight to end the policy in court.
The change in care at Genecis has drawn significant scrutiny from sources inside and outside the hospitals. About 200 faculty, students and community activists gathered at UT Southwestern on International Transgender Day of Visibility to protest the decision, and a national LGBTQ rights group downgraded the hospital’s equality rating.
Age-appropriate, individualized care for minors experiencing gender dysphoria is supported by every major state and national physicians’ group, including the American and Texas Medical Associations.