Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office reportedly sought to compile a database in June on transgender adults in the state, The Washington Post first reported.
The request, which the Post said was sent from Paxton’s office on June 30, called on the Texas Department of Public Safety to put together a list of Texans who changed their gender on their driver’s licenses over the past two years.
Per the request, the chief of the DPS driver’s license division asked colleagues for a month-by-month breakdown of the number of residents who changed their gender designation, according to emails acquired by the Post.
More than 16,000 instances of male-to-female and female-to-male changes on Texas driver’s licenses were found, a department spokesperson told the Post. But DPS could only provide the attorney general’s office with the number of changes and not with any personal data or identifications, as had been requested. Officials determined that a manual search of records would be required to identify the reason for the gender changes on licenses.
“Ultimately, our team advised the AG’s office that the data requested neither exists nor could be accurately produced. Thus, no data of any kind was provided,” the spokesperson told the Post.
Paxton’s office did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment. A DPS spokesperson declined to identify to the Post who from Paxton’s office sent the request in June.
It is unknown why Paxton’s office sought the data, but the request raises concern among LGBTQ Texans and the queer community at large about possible targeting of transgender residents.
“For the LGBTQ+ community as a whole, but for transgender Americans in particular, today’s story out of Texas is chilling,” Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement. “Weaponizing state agencies and their public records to pinpoint and single out transgender Texans is terrifying, albeit not shocking.”
Republican leaders in Texas have sharpened their anti-LGBTQ rhetoric over the past year and have pushed for measures targeting transgender and queer Texans.
In February, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott deemed gender-affirming care in adolescents to be a form of “child abuse” and called on the state’s child welfare agency to conduct an investigation into such medical care for minors — a stance that Paxton supported the following month.
The Texas Republican Party has also declared homosexuality to be an “abnormal choice” and has expressed support for criminalizing gender-affirming medical care and banning minors from attending drag shows.