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Harris County Attorney Investigating Illegal Release of Trans Children’s Medical Records

Records were published by right-wing think tank.

On May 19, Harris County Attorney Christian D. Menefee issued a press release calling for swift and appropriate action in response to children’s medical records from Texas Children’s Hospital being illicitly released to an individual not affiliated with the hospital. The medical records were published by The Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, and relate to children receiving gender-affirming care. 

Roxanne Werner, with Menefee’s office, shared the link to The Manhattan Institute’s blog where the conservative think tank published the records and an article stating:

Last spring, executives at Texas Children’s Hospital announced that they would cease performing transgender medical procedures on children, citing potential legal and criminal liability. The hospital’s chief pediatrician, Catherine Gordon, an advocate for “gender-affirming therapy,” abruptly resigned.

I have obtained exclusive whistleblower documents showing that, despite its public statements, the Houston-based children’s hospital—the largest in the United States—has secretly continued to perform transgender medical interventions, including the use of implantable puberty blockers, on minor children. (When reached via email, hospital spokeswoman Kelley Carville responded: “We have no comment.”)

Although the County Attorney’s office shared the link with OutSmart, Werner said they did not publish the link in the press release due to concerns for the families involved. OutSmart magazine has made the same decision. Unauthorized disclosures of medical records may violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, commonly known as HIPAA. The United State Department of Health and Human Services may investigate potential violations and issue penalties.

“This illicit release of medical records puts children and their families at risk, and swift action must be taken to ensure that this does not happen again,” County Attorney Menefee wrote in his statement. “I have spoken with representatives at Texas Children’s Hospital and understand that the hospital will fully investigate how this happened and notify all impacted families if their information was released. I expect they will fully disclose what they find to the United States Department of Health and Human Services. If a hospital employee leaked these medical records, they must be fired. If it was a hospital vendor, their contract must be terminated. 

Harris County Attorney Christian D. Menefee

“It shouldn’t be lost on anyone that this happened as the Texas Legislature pushes bills to ban trans kids from receiving gender-affirming care, and elected officials in Austin push disturbing and false talking points that demonize LGBTQ+ families. If you care about Texas kids, you should be appalled that someone would be illicitly disclosing their medical records.

“The Attorney General has used this violation of the personal information of minors to launch a legally baseless investigation, erroneously claiming that providing gender-affirming care violates Texas law. He is wrong. If providing this type of care for children were currently illegal, we wouldn’t see Republican legislators spending all their waking hours trying to pass SB14, which bans gender-affirming care.” 

Dr. Cody Pyke—the first transgender and nonbinary appointee to Harris Health System—recently told OutSmart concerning SB14 (banning trans kids from receiving gender-affirming care), “I will push the board to do what we can for LGB and trans people in Harris County. If the bills pass, they will be tied up in legal battles as they are now in other states where similar bills have been passed. Trans people are part of people in need and the mission of Harris Health is to improve the health of those most in need in Harris County through quality care delivery, coordination of care, and education.”


Marene Gustin

Marene Gustin has written about Texas culture, food, fashion, the arts, and Lone Star politics and crime for television, magazines, the web and newspapers nationwide, and worked in Houston politics for six years. Her freelance work has appeared in the Austin Chronicle, Austin-American Statesman, Houston Chronicle, Houston Press, Texas Monthly, Dance International, Dance Magazine, the Advocate, Prime Living, InTown magazine, OutSmart magazine and web sites CultureMap Houston and Austin, Eater Houston and, among others.
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