HOUSTON — This past summer, the Texas Attorney General's Office reportedly asked the Texas Department of Public Safety to compile a list of individuals who had changed their gender on their Texas driver's licenses and other department records during the past two years.
According to a report by The Washington Post, the chief of the DPS driver license division emailed colleagues in the department on June 30, saying they needed the "total number of changes from male to female and female to male for the last 24 months, broken down by month." The chief said they wouldn't need driver license or ID numbers at first, but they "may need to have them later" if required to manually look up documents.
After more than 16,000 such instances were identified, DPS officials reportedly decided that a manual search would be needed to determine the reason for the changes.
DPS Spokesperson Travis Considine told the Washington Post that "a verbal request was received" but "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 said he couldn't say who in Attorney General Ken Paxton's office requested the records.
Public records obtained by the Washington Post do not indicate why Paxton's office sought the driver's license information, but advocates for transgender Texans told the publication that the attorney general could use the data to "further restrict their right to transition, calling it a chilling effort to secretly harness personal information to persecute already vulnerable people."
Paxton's office did not respond to the Washington Posts' requests for comment.
The publication also notes that Paxton's office bypassed the normal channels and went straight to the driver license division staff in making the request for the data. A state employee familiar with the request said staff was told that Paxton's office wanted "numbers" and later would want "a list" of names, as well as "the number of people who had had a legal sex change."
To learn more, read the Washington Post's full report here or on The Texas Tribune's website.