Ken Paxton’s lawsuit targets transgender Americans

Albert Zhao

Last Tuesday, shortly after applauding Judge Reed O’Connor’s ruling against the Obama administration directive for transgender bathroom access, Attorney General Ken Paxton helped file another lawsuit against the U.S. government. The suit targeted the Human and Health Service’s definition of sex for encompassing gender identification and forcing states to provide healthcare for transgender Americans. Paxton claimed it would violate “their Hippocratic Oath, their conscience, or their personal religious beliefs.”

After months of Republican opposition of anti-discrimination protections and healthcare policy for transgender people, Paxton’s suit only follows a strenuous slew of litigation that is fraught with false insinuations and presumptions of transgender issues. He ultimately reveals that his focus is not on the pragmatism of transgender health care, but his moral objection to it. As a result, we must stand with the U.S. government.

Paxton claims that the Texan taxpayer is to be solely burdened with the cost of gender transition by obeying the Affordable Care Act. This falsely assumes that by following a federal guideline, this newly insured person would rely on state funding.

On the contrary, in 2013, former Governor Rick Perry refused federal funding that would have covered 100 percent of the newly insured because of his rejection to expand the Medicaid program under the ACA. Texas still refuses federally compensated healthcare coverage from the ACA under Gov. Greg Abbott and remains the state with the most uninsured Americans. Whether a Texas resident agrees or disagrees with gender transitioning, such a person would not even be paying for the procedures to begin with. The money restlessly awaits not only transgender Americans, but also the other five million Texans who are waiting to receive affordable healthcare.  

But one also must question the extraordinary focus Paxton has on this particular medical operation. He argues that the coverage of gender transitioning would violate the medical and religious ethics of certain medical professionals (note that the Christian Medical and Dental Association and Franciscan Alliance are some of the lawsuit’s plaintiffs), and thus, Paxton implies that a mass-shuttering effect will encompass Texas health services and erect too many personal objections.

However, only 100 to 500 sex reassignment surgery cases are estimated to occur a year. Paxton’s anxiety of the possible mass of personal objections — to an operation that occurs with an annual frequency less than breast implants (or any other body-altering surgery for that matter) — does not make an argument of pervasiveness, but rather targets a specific group of people, a group in this country measured to be 700,000 and growing.  

Further examination of his legal complaint itself reveals the incessant concern for one group while an absent understanding of another. On page 14, it laments that for a dissenting physician to grant a patient’s request for gender transitioning was akin to “[turning] the venerable oath to ‘do no harm’ on its head.”

We must instead remind ourselves of the solidarity we share with our fellow transgender peers as U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch eloquently did: “This is about the dignity and respect we accord our fellow citizens and the laws that we, as a people and as a country, have enacted to protect them — indeed, to protect all of us.” To repudiate Paxton’s opposition to this, we should stand with the U.S. government in this case.

Zhao is a government and communications junior from Shanghai, China.