In all of the controversy around gender transition, there is one group that is persistently marginalized by both the right and left.
They are known as detransitioners — people who decide that they want to return to their birth gender, often after receiving years of interventional care, including surgery, to treat their gender dysphoria.
Now, the nation’s first law firm focused solely on representing these patients — many of whom feel abused by a medical system that encouraged their treatment — has opened its doors in Dallas.
Many leaders of the LGBTQ+ community, which by definition should be a place of belonging for detransitioners, instead shun them. I once asked leaders from two of Dallas’ most prominent LGBTQ+ groups to help me tell the stories of detrans kids, many of whom say they weren’t allowed to be gay because of an ideologically progressive form of conversion therapy that seeks to “trans the gay away.” Those leaders declined.
But the law firm of Campbell Miller Payne, which opened its doors in North Dallas in April, very much wants to hear those stories. And they are flooding in.
The firm has filed four cases so far, with two more coming soon, the partners told me. About 45 prospective clients have reached out, seeking their services. When I asked how many such cases might be out there, waiting for a firm like theirs, the partners shook their heads and shrugged. Could be hundreds. Thousands.
There is a narrative that detransitioning is so rare that it shouldn’t be part of the discussion of transgender health care. That isn’t what these attorneys are finding as their phones ring with potential clients. These Dallas lawyers believe they are on the front edge of what may well be the next chapter of transgender history writ large — a torrent of lawsuits.
The four lawsuits the firm has filed so far all claim some form of medical malpractice, though the details vary widely based on the facts of the cases and applicable state laws.
The simplest version is when a plaintiff alleges that a provider failed to follow medical standards of care. This is what Soren Aldaco alleges — the only Texas case Campbell Miller Payne has filed to date.
A more complicated complaint challenges the WPATH standards themselves. Those standards describe a treatment progression that starts with changing pronouns and dress, moves on to puberty blockers or hormone treatments, and then advances, for some like Aldaco, to gender reassignment surgeries.
But the most ambitious lawsuit Campbell Miller Payne has filed alleges more than rushed treatments or bad guidance. It alleges that the plaintiff, a 20-year-old woman in Rhode Island named Isabelle Ayala “is an unfortunate victim of a collection of actors who prioritized politics and ideology over children’s safety, health, and well-being.”
If the suits are successful, it would have a chilling effect on the provision of transgender treatment. It would also spell the end of the new law firm, something that doesn’t bother its founders.
“We hope to be out of work in five years,” Miller said. “We’d love to not have any more cases coming through the door because clinics have realized that it’s just too expensive of a practice, too much on the line, so even their ideologies won’t really motivate them to cross that line any more.”
Campbell’s take was more client-focused. “What all of our clients have told us is that their only goal in bringing a lawsuit is to prevent what happened to them from happening to another young person in their situation. And I would say that would be our goal as well.”