Actions by state public servants, pressured by citizens, to fight the medical abuse of children have triggered a response from a coalition whose actions would keep minors in danger. Members of this coalition include not only those deeply embedded within our state bureaucracy, but well-funded and politically connected law firms with a history of advancing political ideology.

Background
At the start of this investigative series, Texas Scorecard reported the risks and dangers scientifically reliable publications and subject matter specialists have uncovered about surgical mutilation and hormone manipulation—procedures marketed as “gender affirming.” These risks include blood clots, osteoporosis, hormone-dependent cancers, and even irreversible effects like incontinence and fertility loss.

What’s more, according to scientifically reliable reports, the diagnosis that these abusive medical procedures are purported to solve—gender dysphoria—does not get solved at all, nor does it reduce the number of suicides in minors diagnosed with this condition.

In light of these scientific discoveries, the Western world is pulling back from the idea that children should be exposed to these dangerous procedures.

The Lone Star State, however, has lagged behind. Last year, grassroots pressure in Texas forced a series of events resulting in Gov. Greg Abbott (R) firing off a letter to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), directing them to investigate instances of children who undergo these dangerous procedures.

That event revealed a deep state within Texas’ bureaucracies committed to supporting the continuation of this medical child abuse. Forces within DFPS emerged to fight Abbott’s letter, while the Texas Medical Board, Texas Board of Nursing, and Texas State Board of Pharmacy have raised their shields in what appears to be an attempt to protect potentially bad actors and bad medications.

But there are activist lawyers defending these anti-science acts too.

Coalition of Activist Lawyers 
On March 1, 2022, a DFPS employee who used the pseudonym Jane Doe was a plaintiff in the lawsuit filed to block Gov. Abbott’s directive for DFPS to investigate incidents of children who underwent abusive medical procedures such as gender mutilation and hormone manipulation. The legal case is known as Doe v. Abbott.

That lawsuit revealed four law firms that readily joined Doe’s defense of medical child abuse. During Texas Scorecard’s investigation, records showed these forces are well funded and have strong political connections.

The Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund is a 501(c)3 nonprofit founded in 1973. They are headquartered in New York City but also have a regional office in Dallas. Lambda advertises itself as the “oldest and largest national legal organization” focused on achieving “full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and everyone living with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.”

Dedicated to their cause, Lambda has waged activist lawyering in multiple cases, including one victory that resulted in gay-straight alliances being permitted to exist in public schools.

In 2021, Texas Scorecard published an undercover recording of such a club at the Dallas Independent School District. The recording exposed a teacher promoting the controversial sexual theory of transgenderism to minors at George Bannerman Dealey Montessori Academy, which has students ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade.

According to their 2020 tax year filing with the IRS, Lambda bathed in waterfalls of more than $25 million in revenues that tax year, up more than 51 percent from the year before.

For the Doe v. Abbott contest, Lambda deployed seven attorneys. Below are the ones Texas Scorecard examined.

First up is attorney Shelly Skeen, the lead counsel in Doe v. Abbott. She is a senior attorney at Lambda, and her profile also lists her as an adjunct professor who teaches “LGBT law” in Texas; precisely where she teaches isn’t provided, and a search has yet to uncover that information. She is advertised on the National LGBTQ+ Bar Association website as a participant on two panels discussing how to advance radical policy agendas under the political banner of LGBTQ+.

Skeen has donated to the Texas Pride Impact Funds—whose mission is “to propel the LGBTQ+ movement in Texas by supporting nonprofits”— and was a finalist for the Dallas LGBT Bar Association’s 2020 Justice Award. In her interview with the association, she attacked pro-citizen organizations like First Liberty Institute and the Alliance Defending Freedom. In five years, she sees herself “fighting continued attempts to expand religious liberties and religious exemptions, including through the use of the free exercise and establishment clauses and the free speech clause, working from a legislative and policy standpoint to move pro LGBT legislation forward, to fight anti-LGBT legislation and to change hearts and minds in the process.”

Next up is Paul D. Castillo. After his time working for the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights (OCR) in the Obama administration, Castillo came to be Lambda’s senior counsel and “students’ rights strategist.”

His record shows he’s participated in some rather high-profile legal battles advancing far-left ideology.

He was a member of the legal team involved in the Obergefell v. Hodges case, where in 2014 the U.S. Supreme Court forced states to alter their definition of the religious institution of marriage from being strictly between one man and one woman to including individuals of the same sex. Castillo advocated for the side that won.

There is also the case where he represented plaintiff Dana Zzym, who sued the U.S. Secretary of State for not issuing a passport that matched his preference to be identified as neither male nor female. Zzym got his way in 2021, with the Secretary of State issuing him a passport with the gender of “X.”

Castillo isn’t the only former government employee connected to Lambda.

The other one that was also deployed to this case is Nicholas Guillory. Texas Scorecard’s attempts to access his biography at the Lambda website resulted in an “access denied” notification. Fortunately, that page was archived. He “served as a legal intern with the Maryland Office of Public Defenders – Juvenile Division and the Travis County Juvenile Public Defender’s Office. He currently serves as a Board Member for the Trans Legal Aid Clinic Houston.”

Guillory’s social media history displays his views on expanding the target range of abusive medical procedures from adults to children.

Next up is Omar-Gonzalez-Pagan, Lambda’s health care strategist. He used to work as an assistant attorney general in Massachusetts, a special assistant district attorney, and an associate general counsel to the Massachusetts inspector general. He was with Paul D. Castillo in the Obergefell v. Hodges case.

The final two members of Lambda’s team in the Doe v. Abbott case Texas Scorecard examined are Karen Loewy, senior counsel and senior strategist at Lambda, and Camilla Taylor, Lambda’s deputy legal director for litigation.

Before joining the leftist firm, Loewy “was a Senior Staff Attorney with GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), where she engaged in a wide range of LGBT impact litigation and policy work throughout New England for nearly 12 years.” Loewy has equated protecting children from the abusive medical procedures of surgical mutilation and hormone manipulation with persecution.

As for Camilla Taylor, in 2015 she was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame after a definition of marriage lawsuit in Iowa.

The history of Lambda Legal’s team does not make it quite so surprising that they would take the side of Jane Doe in this fight. That cannot be said for another member of this activist coalition.

RINOs Strike Again
Based in Austin, Baker Botts LLP describes itself as a “leading global law firm.” As part of their firm, Baker Botts has a “Pride In Action” group that “comprises a diverse group of the firm’s highly engaged lawyers, paralegals, and administrative staff who have committed thousands of hours to these matters in pursuit of justice and equality for LGBTQ+ people.”

Baker Botts boasts that, of late, their work has “focused” on expanding “transgender and gender non-conforming” political policies. They also display members of their “Pride In Action” coalition partners including the ACLU and Lambda Legal—the very same coalition partners they’re fighting alongside with in Doe v. Abbott. They also have another connection to Lambda Legal; Brandt Thomas Roessler, one of the attorneys they deployed in Doe v. Abbott, is co-chair of the NY Emerging Leaders Committee of Lambda Legal.

Baker Botts boasts of engaging in activism lawyering on these issues in North Carolina and Tennessee, as well.

While their financial information is not readily available, as they are for-profit, this is a law firm that is politically well connected, and that is what raises an eyebrow at their involvement in this fight.

The firm’s namesake is James Baker III, who was a partner at the firm. Baker was chief of staff for former Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He also led former President George W. Bush’s (R) team against former Vice President Al Gore’s (D) in the Florida recount fight in the 2000 election.

They have political connections in Texas as well.

According to information from Transparency USA, Baker Botts was paid more than $343,000 by the Texans for Rick Perry PAC for “legal services” in 2015. That was the year former Gov. Perry (R) made a second try for the Republican nomination for president.

But they’ve done business with the other side, too. From 2018 to 2019, they were paid more than $46,000 by Judge Staci Williams (D) of the 101st District Court in Dallas County. In 2020, voters rejected her bid for a spot on the Texas Supreme Court.

Baker Botts also has a Texas political action committee through which they influence state politics: the Baker Botts Amicus Fund. According to Transparency USA, its tentacles reach into the Texas Supreme Court. Searching from 2015 to present, Transparency USA reports show donations from Baker Botts Amicus Fund to every current sitting member of the state’s high court, including Chief Justice Nathan Hecht (R). The fund has also donated to former Supreme Court Judge Eva Guzman, whom incumbent Ken Paxton defeated in the race for the Republican nomination for Texas attorney general this year.

All of the Supreme Court judges are Republicans, but the Baker Botts Amicus Fund has also donated to Democrats (Judges Lauren Reeder of the 234th District Court and Beau Miller of the 190th District Court, both in Harris County, and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner). They’ve also donated to Judge Eric Moye, the Dallas County judge who fined and jailed salon owner and former state legislative candidate Shelley Luther in 2020 after she defied oppressive government shutdown orders and reopened her salon.

Clearly, this law firm plays the field of the political spectrum. Their position on social issues, however, is not spread around but laser focused.

Here are the the attorneys Baker Botts deployed in Doe v. Abbott that Texas Scorecard examined.

According to the Baker Botts website, in 2020 Maddy R. Dwertman was listed as a “Best LGBT Lawyer Under 40” by the National LGBTQ+ Bar Association and received the Baker Botts Excellence in Diversity and Community Engagement Award. She also received the State Bar of Texas LGBTQ Law Section Judge Black Award in 2022 and has experience representing cases before the Texas appellate and supreme courts.

Next is Derek R. McDonald. “His experience includes counseling and litigation in air quality, municipal, hazardous or radioactive waste, and NEPA matters and representation of clients in contested administrative proceedings in federal and state courts,” his Baker Botts biography states. In 2021, McDonald was The Best Lawyers in America’s “Lawyer of the Year” for his litigation-environmental work in Austin.

Last is the aforementioned Brandt Thomas Roessler. In addition to his international arbitration work, he does pro bono work representing clients in LGBTQ cases, including fighting for immigration applications on behalf of those who claim to be LGBTQ asylum seekers.

Lambda Legal and Baker Botts are two of the lesser known law firms involved in the fight to stop Abbott’s directive for the Texas DFPS to investigate instances of children who’ve undergone surgical mutilation and hormone manipulation.

The other two players in this coalition, however, are very well known.

The Usual Suspects
Based in New York City, the national American Civil Liberties Union Foundation advertises itself as defending “the rights of all people nationwide,” yet the foundation has a known history of fighting to block public servants from defending certain rights while representing special interests.

They also have a significant war chest. The latest filing by the national ACLU Foundation to the Internal Revenue Service was for the 2019 tax year. According to that report, their revenue that tax year was more than $185 million. While that is more than 10 percent less than the prior year, that is still a significant amount of cash.

Often, opponents of self-governance prattle on about how well funded pro-citizen organizations are. Such narratives are often used as a method to lead the public into believing that pro-citizen groups are cozy with the establishment and are therefore flush with cash. However, that narrative falls apart when you compare the ACLU’s more than $185 million in 2019 tax year revenues with those of religious liberty defense firm First Liberty in the same tax year (more than $14 million).

Texas Scorecard examined the attorneys the ACLU deployed in Doe v. Abbott.

Chase Strangio is the ACLU’s Deputy Director for “Transgender Justice, ACLU LGBTQ & HIV Project.” Strangio was born female but prefers to be recognized as male, and she underwent unproven procedures in an attempt to separate herself from her gender. She has proceeded to parrot the “gender-affirming” narrative. “There is plainly no one type of body that we could accurately label a ‘male body,’” she wrote in a piece for Slate. “It is an ideological position—and not a scientific fact—to name someone’s body, genitals, or biology male.”

Dr. Andre Van Mol disagrees. “To quote, psychiatry Professor Steve Levine, it is biologically impossible to change your sex,” he told Texas Scorecard. “Sex is stamped on every nucleated cell in your body.”

Despite this obvious conflict with scientific fact, Strangio has continued to promote the establishment narrative. In an interview with website Scary Mommy, she advocated for parents who subjected their children to these procedures to have a “safe folder” filled with biased documentation they can deploy should anyone try to hold them accountable for their actions. Strangio recommended that such documentation include biased letters from a pediatrician, friends, and sociologists or psychologists that says “allowing someone assigned male at birth the opportunity and freedom to wear a dress is actually good and healthy for child development.”

On the day the Doe v. Abbott lawsuit was filed, the ACLU published an article by Strangio about the event. “Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton told trans youth in Texas last week that they considered their health care to be a form of child abuse. This is dangerous, dehumanizing, and terrifying to trans youth and their supportive families,” she wrote. “Gender-affirming care saved my life. … No one should have to fight this hard for lifesaving care.”

This claim conflicts with scientifically reliable publications and doctors that warn of the dangerous side effects and permanent consequences of these abusive medical procedures.

Next on the ACLU activist legal team is James Esseks, the director of the LGBTQ and HIV Project at the ACLU. He also participated in the ACLU’s anti-child activist legal action last year against the Arkansas Legislature’s ban of these types of procedures. “The effects of withholding this care from transgender youth are chilling — self-harm and suicidal ideation are many times more common among transgender youth than among cisgender youth, especially when they cannot get the care and support that they need,” he wrote in a May 2021 article about their lawsuit.

That flies in the face of a 2021 white paper from Lisa Littman, who wrote that “case reports are shedding light on a broader and more complex range of experiences that include … worsened mental health with transition.” Esseks’ claim also contradicts J. Michael Bailey and Ray Blanchard’s 2017 paper “Suicide or transition: The only options for gender dysphoric kids?” Bailey and Blanchard reported in that paper that “there is no persuasive evidence that gender transition reduces gender dysphoric children’s likelihood of killing themselves.”

Esseks’ political affiliation is no surprise. According to information from Open Secrets, he has given to Democrats in the past two years, and he previously donated to Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama.

That’s the national ACLU team. What about ACLU Texas?

Local Suspects
Not to be outdone by their big brother, the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Texas deployed attorneys Brian Klosterboer and Andre Segura to help the Doe side of Doe v. Abbott.

According to their 2020 tax year filing with the IRS, ACLU Texas’ revenues that tax year were 23 percent higher from the prior year: from close to $5 million to more than $6.1 million.

Terri Burke was listed as their executive director with a salary of more than $253,000, with more than $124,000 from “related organizations.” Their chief strategy officer, Thomas Hargis, was paid more than $100,000. According to the ACLU website, Burke is still executive director, but there is no mention of Hargis. Burke’s biography is very scant, only mentioning her position and profiling a “featured work” of hers from 2018 in which she criticized former President Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy toward illegal border crossings.

A search of Transparency USA returned no political contribution data for Burke or Hargis from 2015 to now.

That doesn’t mean ACLU Texas doesn’t wield influence in the Texas Legislature. According to data from Transparency USA, since 2017 they have fielded lobbyists to the Legislature, spending between a minimum of more than $198,000 to a maximum of more than $478,000.

Texas Scorecard examined the attorneys ACLU Texas deployed in the Doe v. Abbott lawsuit.

Attorney Andre Segura joined ACLU Texas in July 2017 as their legal director. According to ACLU Texas’ 2020 tax year filing with the IRS, Segura’s pay during that time period was more than $94,000, while getting paid more than $40,000 from “related organizations.”

Previously, he had worked in the Immigrant’s Rights Project at the ACLU’s New York headquarters. ACLU Texas’ press release boasts of his “key role in the ACLU’s resistance to President Trump’s executive orders aimed at establishing a Muslim ban, attacking sanctuary cities, and expanding immigration enforcement.” It also praises Segura’s activist legal fight against Texas’ anti-sanctuary city law. He also wrote a July 2017 opinion piece published by the Houston Chronicle claiming former President Trump was “threatening the Constitution.”

Such a record matches Segura’s donation history. Open Secrets reports he donated last August to Democrat Rochelle Garza, who failed in her challenge to incumbent Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) this year. Garza’s campaign advocated the continuation of illegal border crossings into Texas and having a pro-abortion agenda.

Next is attorney Brian Klosterboer, who has been with ACLU Texas since 2018. Before then, he worked as a law clerk for Judge Vanessa D. Gilmore of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. He gave an interview this June to Outsmart Magazine about their activist lawyering in Doe v. Abbott. “Accusing the parents of trans youth of engaging in child abuse is one of the cruelest things you can accuse a parent of,” he said. “They are just providing their kids with the best possible health care.”

“We are also fighting to ensure that there are no criminal penalties and no one has to report anyone.”

A search of Transparency USA for “Brian Klosterboer”* came back with donations to Democrats: State Rep. James Talarico (D–Round Rock), outgoing State Rep. Michelle Beckley (D–Carrollton), and failed Democrat candidate for Attorney General Rochelle Garza. All contributions were made by a Klosterboer living in Houston, Texas. According to his LinkedIn page, Klosterboer does reside in Houston.

Conclusion
For citizens to assert their self-governance in this matter of protecting children, knowing who these players are is part of the battle. But there are still more players in this fight—one whom Lambda attorney Jeff Watters called his “brave friend” in a March 4, 2022, tweet.

 

In Part 4 of this series, Texas Scorecard will examine a key medical figure, and those connected to her, who has fought to keep children at risk of abusive medical procedures.

*Results from Transparency USA matched the first and last name and home city, but no other information was able to completely confirm if it was the same individual.  

Robert Montoya

A former filmmaker, University of North Texas graduate, and one-time assistant language teacher, Robert Montoya misses Japan and the 1980s. He is an investigative reporter for Texas Scorecard.

Kristen Stanciu

Kristen is a sophomore at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She loves to read, write, and cook, and is passionate about American principles and public policy. She works as a research fellow for Texas Scorecard.

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