Ken Paxton's Forever War Against The Transgender Community Opens New Fronts

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is not going to quit fighting against Texas' transgender community.

Tuesday, Paxton filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Franciscan Alliance, a religious hospital network, against the Obama administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in an attempt to block HHS from defining sex within the Affordable Care Act. The suit is Paxton's 13th against the Obama administration since taking office in January 2015.

Paxton is concerned that the new federal regulation will force doctors to "violate not only their medical judgment, but their deeply held religious beliefs," because he believes the regulations could force doctors to perform gender transition procedures against their will.
"Last month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services implemented a new rule “interpreting” the definition of “sex” within the Affordable Care Act. As the Obama Administration has attempted to do in other instances, this new rule interprets “sex” as a state of mind, not a biological fact, Paxton said in a statement. "The Obama Administration is now trying to redefine the law so that the term “sex” means one’s “internal sense of gender which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female.” But the President does not have the power to rewrite law."

The new regulation says doctors can claim exemptions from its provisions under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but Paxton and the four states joining him in the lawsuit believes the protections don't go far enough.

"I am disappointed in the Obama Administration’s lack of consideration for medical professionals who believe that engaging in such procedures or treatment violates their Hippocratic Oath, their conscience, or their personal religious beliefs, which are protected by the Constitution and federal law," Paxton said.

The suit was assigned to U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor. On Monday, O'Connor sided with Paxton in a separate transgender-rights case, issuing a temporary injunction against a federal directive that would've required all schools receiving Department of Education cash to allow transgender kids to use the restroom in which they felt the most comfortable.

Chuck Smith, the CEO of Equality Texas, accused the attorney general of "seeking to deny transgender people access to competent medical care."

"The attorney general needs to stop this assault against an already marginalized population and stop wasting taxpayer money," Smith said in a statement.

On a less litigious note, Paxton's office confirmed Tuesday that the attorney general had accepted an invitation to share a meal with Denton's Amber Briggle and her son MG, who is transgender. Paxton's twin lawsuits should make for interesting dinner conversation.
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young

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