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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton goes after puberty blockers

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) speaks at a rally in Conroe, Tex., on Jan. 29. (Michael Stravato for The Washington Post)

A previous version of this article incorrectly said a federal appeals court reinstated a temporary injunction against Gov. Greg Abbott's directive to investigate parents who let their children medically transition genders. It was a Texas appeals court. Additionally, this article misidentified the Austin Independent School District as the Austin School District. The article has been corrected.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) said Thursday that his office has launched an investigation against two pharmaceutical companies that make puberty blockers used to treat children with gender dysphoria. The probe is the latest action taken by Paxton and Gov. Greg Abbott (R) to limit gender-affirming health care for transgender children. Paxton also sent a letter this week to the Austin Independent School District saying school officials were breaking the law by hosting a Pride Week, which includes lessons on diversity and acceptance.

In a release, Paxton said his office wants to determine whether AbbVie and Endo Pharmaceuticals broke state law by promoting the use of Lupron and Supprelin without disclosing the potential risks to children and their parents.

The Food and Drug Administration has only approved their use to treat precocious puberty. But physicians commonly prescribe drugs for unapproved, or “off-label,” uses, and puberty blockers have been used for years to delay the onset of puberty for children who are considering transitioning genders.

In late February, Paxton issued a legal opinion that said helping children medically transition could be considered child abuse. Abbott then issued a directive ordering child protective services to investigate parents who did so. A Texas appeals court recently reinstated a lower court’s temporary statewide injunction against the directive while a lawsuit challenging its legality works its way through the courts. On Thursday, Paxton asked the Texas Supreme Court to direct the court of appeals to withdraw the injunction.

In the past six months, two Texas hospitals stopped offering the blockers to trans children. Genecis, a Dallas-based health program that offered puberty blockers to trans children, closed last November, and the Houston-based Texas Children’s Hospital announced this month that it would pause its program offering blockers and hormone therapy to transgender children.

Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas, criticized the investigation. “All kids, regardless of race, class, genders, sexual orientation or ability, deserve to live happy and authentic lives without government intrusion,” Martinez said. “The effort in Texas to ban transgender young people’s access to best-practice, lifesaving health care that has been endorsed by every major, credible medical association is an outrageous abuse of power and clear government intrusion.”