Recently obtained emails reveal that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sought to gather information on the state’s trans population this past summer. In February, Paxton penned a legal opinion which labeled parents who support their trans children as child abusers. This latest action goes beyond children and parents, with Paxton setting his sights on trans adults.
According to records obtained by The Washington Post, Paxton’s office sent a request to the Department of Public Safety (which handles driver’s licenses) for a list of changes to gender markers. “Need total number of changes from male to female and female to male for the last 24 months, broken down by month,” the chief of the DPS’s driver license division wrote in an email. “We won’t need DL/ID numbers at first but may need to have them later if we are required to manually look up documents.”
According to one anonymous employee, staff was advised that while the request was only for “numbers,” Paxton’s office would later want names.
The search resulted in a list of 16,000 instances of changes to the sex category. However, the DPS determined that a manual search would be needed in order to weed out errors or other reasons for changes. “A verbal request was received,” DPS spokesman Travis Considine told the Post. “Ultimately, our team advised the AG’s office the data requested neither exists nor could be accurately produced. Thus, no data of any kind was provided.”
Although the reason for the data request was never specified, it coincides with Paxton’s anti-trans efforts earlier in the year. Following his legal opinion on trans healthcare—which accredited medical organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics have expressly condemned as unscientific—Texas Governor Greg Abbott directed the Family and Protective Services to open child abuse investigations into trans-supportive families. In May, the Texas state Supreme Court upheld a temporary injunction on these investigations (albeit, limiting the original injunction’s scope). Records now show that Paxton’s request to the DPS came a month later.
Trans residents are understandably alarmed. “It’s very specifically targeted, and the one person I don’t want knowing about my gender status is Ken Paxton,” Alexis Salkeld Garcia, a 34-year-old software developer living in Austin, told the Post. “I don’t want a cop pulling me over and knowing I’m trans. That is why I changed my gender marker extremely quickly,” she added.
Ian Pittman, an attorney representing families investigated under Abbott’s directive, pointed out the clear implications of a compiled list of trans people. “This is another brick building toward targeting these individuals,” he said. “They’ve already targeted children and parents. The next step would be targeting adults. And what better way than seeing what adults had had their sex changed on their driver’s licenses?”