LGBTQ rights group suspends Dallas hospitals from equality index after cuts to transgender care

The Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBTQ rights organization, suspended two Dallas hospitals from its healthcare inclusiveness rating system after the facilities closed the state’s only comprehensive medical program for transgender children to new patients.

In a letter to leaders of Children’s Health and the University of Texas Southwestern sent Wednesday afternoon, the HRC said the program’s closure and lack of public communication about the decision led it to suspend hospitals from the 2020 Biennial Health Care Equality Index and “Best Performing” designations. .

Genecis – which stands for Gender Education and Care, Interdisciplinary Support – was a highly acclaimed seven-year program created by hospitals to provide transgender and gender-diverse young people with healthcare, including mental health counseling and hormone therapy.

“Decisions that have been made regarding the provision of medical care to transgender and gender-diverse youth put the lives of young people at risk – and require us to take action regarding both Children’s Medical Center Dallas and the status from the UT Southwestern Health Care Equality Index. said Jay Brown, HRC Foundation’s senior vice president for programs, research and training.

Until this change, Children’s Health and UT Southwestern scored 90 and 95 out of 100, respectively, on the HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index for their focus on caring for LGBTQ patients, visitors and employees. On its website, UT Southwestern points to the “best performer” designation as evidence of its focus on equity and access.

Late Wednesday evening, the two hospitals issued a written statement, saying they “remain committed to providing care and a welcoming environment for everyone, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, social status or condition. cost-effective, and to ensure that our patients receive the care they need. The safety and privacy of our patients is our top priority.”

The hospitals said care for adult transgender patients continues in endocrinology, psychiatry and other departments at UT Southwestern, while pediatric care continues in specialty clinics. “As previously stated, the decision to remove branding from this care provides a more private and isolated experience for patients and families,” the hospitals said.

In November, hospitals said they would no longer accept new patients for puberty suppression or hormone therapy to treat gender dysphoria.

On Wednesday, hospitals said pre-existing care for pediatric patients had not been interrupted. “Additionally, we continue to accept new pediatric patients for psychiatric evaluation and other diagnoses, including the diagnosis of gender dysphoria. New pediatric patients are being seen in the appropriate specialist departments,” the hospitals said. “Similar to many other providers in the region, we will not initiate pediatric patients on hormone or puberty suppression therapy for this diagnosis.”

Republican politicians in Texas have increasingly thrust the medical treatment of transgender children into the spotlight in recent months as they enter a competitive re-election season next year.

Earlier this year, after state lawmakers unsuccessfully attempted to change state law to ban gender-affirming care, Gov. Greg Abbott encouraged child protective services to redefine the abuse to include surgery for trans youth.

The decision to close Genecis for new patients was criticized by more than 400 Texas doctors and healthcare professionals who signed a November letter to both hospitals denouncing the decision.

According to leading medical and child welfare groups in the state and nation, denying adolescents gender-affirming medical treatment risks causing psychological distress and increasing the risk of abuse and abuse. of stigma.

Health care for current Genecis patients will now be managed and coordinated by various specialized departments of Children’s Health and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, hospital officials said. They added that all references to Genecis have been removed from hospital websites to provide more security for these current patients.

The HRC has requested a meeting with hospital management in mid-November to discuss closing Genecis to new patients. The meeting was scheduled for early December and then canceled, according to the letter.

The organization then sent specific questions to the hospitals and received no response, the letter said.

“We would like to see some transparency about what is happening. But, more importantly, parents and children seeking care really want to know,” said Tari Hanneman, director of the HRC Foundation’s Health and Aging Program, in an interview. “There is a lot of fear and confusion about being able to access this care and a lack of clarity from institutions about what care is being provided.”

UT Southwestern and Children’s voluntarily participated in the HRC Equality Index, Hanneman said. They submitted a survey and other evidence to support their commitment to providing inclusive care for LGBTQ patients. HRC then gave the hospitals their previous scores, which are among the best for healthcare facilities.

Unless there is a ‘change of course’, HRC officials say they will apply a 25-point deduction that is part of the ‘responsible citizenship criteria’ to hospitals’ 2022 scores. Both hospitals will be featured in this year’s Health Care Equality Index report, due out in late March.

The HRC has invoked the point deduction for “responsible citizenship criteria” only once in the almost 15 years of the index’s existence. In the 2018 Index, Johns Hopkins Hospital received the 25-point deduction for “Johns Hopkins Medicine’s failure to address HRC concerns about deeply troubling anti-LGBTQ misinformation expressed and posted by members of the faculty,” according to the HRC website.

HRC also criticized UT Southwestern and Children’s Health for not providing the same access to treatment for trans and non-trans patients.

“This is discrimination and it is against your policy of non-discrimination of LGBTQ+ patients,” her letter reads.

West Campus Building 3, 2001 Inwood Rd., at UT Southwestern Medical Center on Wednesday, August 28, 2019 in Dallas.  (Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News)

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