Earlier this year, Attorney General Ken Paxton requested that the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) compile a database of all individuals in the state that have changed their gender on their driver’s license and other records controlled by the law enforcement agency for the last two years.
Email records obtained through a public records request by The Washington Post revealed that on June 30, the DPS driver’s license division chief, Sheri Gipson, passed on the request to the appropriate staff.
“Need total number of changes from male to female and female to male for the last 24 months, broken down by month,” Gipson wrote. “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.”
Reports indicate that the initial query of records produced over 16,000 gender changes over that period. DPS officials then determined that a manual review of the records was necessary to better understand the reason for each requested change.
Records indicate that DPS staff struggled to narrow the 16,466 records down to only those that were altered to reflect a court-ordered change in someone’s gender.
While some have speculated that the move was somehow a prelude to the targeting of individuals who have sought to legally change their gender, others suggest that the request was more likely related to an effort to understand the magnitude of court-ordered gender changes of minors. This latter explanation may have support in the fact that Texas legislators filed State Bill 162, not yet passed, to prevent the change of gender on birth certificates of minors.
Gipson emailed staff on August 4, stating, “We have expended enough effort on this attempt to provide data. After this run, have them package the data that they have with the high-level explanations and close it out.”
Two weeks later, communications records indicate that DPS had “provided the data request by the AG’s office (attached).”
DPS spokesman Travis Considine told The Washington Post that the request for this information was made verbally and, in the end, the state law enforcement agency never actually turned over anything to the attorney general’s office.
“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,” Considine claimed.
According to reporting, Paxton and the attorney general’s office have thus far not responded to requests for comment.