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Tipsheet

Report: Whistleblower Exposes 'Permanent Harm' Being Inflicted at Pediatric 'Gender Affirming' Clinics

AP Photo/Armando Franca

The Free Press has published a lengthy essay by a self-described queer woman -- who is married to a transgender man, and who says her political views are to the left of Bernie Sanders -- blowing the whistle on what is occurring inside 'pediatric gender clinics' across the country.  She worked at one such facility for years, where she grew increasingly uncomfortable over what she witnessed firsthand, calling it "morally and medically appalling."  Keep in mind that state-level efforts to curb or rein in some of these disturbing excesses, specifically involving minors, are often reflexively described by the 'news' media as "anti-LGBT" initiatives or bills.  This is done intentionally, to disqualify people asking questions or objecting as bigots.  The point is to end discussion, not foster it.  It's not about best practices, the wellbeing of children, or actual science.  It's about protecting an ideological agenda, no matter the cost.  And the cost, it seems, is being paid dearly by many young people being funneled into permanent life- and body-altering decisions, based on highly questionable procedures and shoddy (or even nonexistent) "science."  

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The fact that a number of socially progressive European nations have slammed the brakes on this sort adventurism and experimentation with children's lives and bodies, citing serious problems with the methodology and basis for so-called 'gender affirming care' for minors, often goes overlooked or deliberately ignored.  So, too, have similar admonitions from leading practitioners of said care, several of whom are themselves transgender.  I can understand why some activists may believe that any questioning of such things provides ammunition to political actors who are intolerant of trans people in general.  And while I think trans activists often go way too far in making demands of society, including the uprooting of our language, to control how people think and talk about their boutique issues, I think we would all be better off operating under the principle of the Golden Rule.  Every person should treated with dignity and respect.  

These ideals are not incompatible with refusing to accept what amounts to anti-scientific, anti-Hippocratic-oath and even anti-parental-rights abuses being inflicted against children by adults, in the name of identity 'justice,' or whatever buzzwords are attached to them.  The FP piece is very long, and is at times unsettlingly graphic (I will not quote those passages here).  I recommend reading it in its entirety.  Some representative excerpts, starting with the author presenting her progressive bona fides and explaining why she resisted the instinct to remain silent, as many people in her life advised:

For almost four years, I worked at The Washington University School of Medicine Division of Infectious Diseases with teens and young adults who were HIV positive. Many of them were trans or otherwise gender nonconforming, and I could relate: Through childhood and adolescence, I did a lot of gender questioning myself. I’m now married to a transman, and together we are raising my two biological children from a previous marriage and three foster children we hope to adopt.  All that led me to a job in 2018 as a case manager at The Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children's Hospital, which had been established a year earlier.  The center’s working assumption was that the earlier you treat kids with gender dysphoria, the more anguish you can prevent later on. This premise was shared by the center’s doctors and therapists. Given their expertise, I assumed that abundant evidence backed this consensus.  During the four years I worked at the clinic as a case manager—I was responsible for patient intake and oversight—around a thousand distressed young people came through our doors. The majority of them received hormone prescriptions that can have life-altering consequences—including sterility. 

I left the clinic in November of last year because I could no longer participate in what was happening there. By the time I departed, I was certain that the way the American medical system is treating these patients is the opposite of the promise we make to “do no harm.” Instead, we are permanently harming the vulnerable patients in our care. Today I am speaking out. I am doing so knowing how toxic the public conversation is around this highly contentious issue—and the ways that my testimony might be misused. I am doing so knowing that I am putting myself at serious personal and professional risk. Almost everyone in my life advised me to keep my head down. But I cannot in good conscience do so. Because what is happening to scores of children is far more important than my comfort. And what is happening to them is morally and medically appalling.

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Powerful words. The pressure to say nothing, and avoid the wrath of an extremely loud and influential group of activists and their allies, is immense on this subject, particularly on the Left. But Jamie Reed decided to speak out anyway. And the story she's telling is deeply concerning:

At first, the patient population was tipped toward what used to be the “traditional” instance of a child with gender dysphoria: a boy, often quite young, who wanted to present as—who wanted to be—a girl. Until 2015 or so, a very small number of these boys comprised the population of pediatric gender dysphoria cases. Then, across the Western world, there began to be a dramatic increase in a new population: Teenage girls, many with no previous history of gender distress, suddenly declared they were transgender and demanded immediate treatment with testosterone. I certainly saw this at the center. One of my jobs was to do intake for new patients and their families. When I started there were probably 10 such calls a month. When I left there were 50, and about 70 percent of the new patients were girls. Sometimes clusters of girls arrived from the same high school. This concerned me, but didn’t feel I was in the position to sound some kind of alarm back then.

There was a team of about eight of us, and only one other person brought up the kinds of questions I had. Anyone who raised doubts ran the risk of being called a transphobe. The girls who came to us had many comorbidities: depression, anxiety, ADHD, eating disorders, obesity. Many were diagnosed with autism, or had autism-like symptoms. A report last year on a British pediatric transgender center found that about one-third of the patients referred there were on the autism spectrum. Frequently, our patients declared they had disorders that no one believed they had. We had patients who said they had Tourette syndrome (but they didn’t); that they had tic disorders (but they didn’t); that they had multiple personalities (but they didn’t). The doctors privately recognized these false self-diagnoses as a manifestation of social contagion.
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The ease with which minors could begin the "transition" process is staggering:

To begin transitioning, the girls needed a letter of support from a therapist—usually one we recommended—who they had to see only once or twice for the green light. To make it more efficient for the therapists, we offered them a template for how to write a letter in support of transition. The next stop was a single visit to the endocrinologist for a testosterone prescription. That’s all it took. When a female takes testosterone, the profound and permanent effects of the hormone can be seen in a matter of months. Voices drop, beards sprout, body fat is redistributed. Sexual interest explodes, aggression increases, and mood can be unpredictable. Our patients were told about some side effects, including sterility. But after working at the center, I came to believe that teenagers are simply not capable of fully grasping what it means to make the decision to become infertile while still a minor.

We don't let people this age buy alcohol or cigarettes.  We don't let them vote.  This isn't arbitrary or an accident.  Reed writes, "the center downplayed the negative consequences, and emphasized the need for transition. As the center’s website said, 'Left untreated, gender dysphoria has any number of consequences, from self-harm to suicide. But when you take away the gender dysphoria by allowing a child to be who he or she is, we’re noticing that goes away. The studies we have show these kids often wind up functioning psychosocially as well as or better than their peers.' There are no reliable studies showing this. Indeed, the experiences of many of the center’s patients prove how false these assertions are." She goes on to list a number of examples, which are admittedly difficult to read.  She also explains how she was parental rights being willfully eroded in many cases, providing a shocking anecdote about what happened to an 11-year-old girl whose mother described as a "tomboy" before quickly adopting all the 'correct' terminology and claims to guarantee the green-lighting of her child's transition process, over the strenuous objections of the girl's father.  

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Reed also explains the growing phenomena of 'desisting' and 'de-transitioning,' featuring people who abruptly stop, or come to regret, the transition process.  She recounts the heartbreaking lamentation of one young woman, who told a nurse, "I want my breasts back.”  Reed said she faced professional retaliation for even tracking such cases.  "By spring 2020, I felt a medical and moral obligation to do something. So I spoke up in the office, and sent plenty of emails," she writes.  The result?

In all my years at the Washington University School of Medicine, I had received solidly positive performance reviews. But in 2021, that changed. I got a below-average mark for my “Judgment” and “Working Relationships/Cooperative Spirit.” Although I was described as “responsible, conscientious, hard-working and productive” the evaluation also noted: “At times Jamie responds poorly to direction from management with defensiveness and hostility.”  Things came to a head at a half-day retreat in summer of 2022. In front of the team, the doctors said that my colleague and I had to stop questioning the “medicine and the science” as well as their authority. Then an administrator told us we had to “Get on board, or get out.” It became clear that the purpose of the retreat was to deliver these messages to us.

She goes on to expose the propaganda being fed to the general public, noting that there is a global trend away from what is only growing within the United States, under the banner of 'progress:'

I came across comments from Dr. Rachel Levine, a transgender woman who is a high official at the federal Department of Health and Human Services. The article read: “Levine, the U.S. assistant secretary for health, said that clinics are proceeding carefully and that no American children are receiving drugs or hormones for gender dysphoria who shouldn’t.” I felt stunned and sickened. It wasn’t true. And I know that from deep first-hand experience. So I started writing down everything I could about my experience at the Transgender Center. Two weeks ago, I brought my concerns and documents to the attention of Missouri’s attorney general. He is a Republican. I am a progressive. But the safety of children should not be a matter for our culture wars.

Given the secrecy and lack of rigorous standards that characterize youth gender transition across the country, I believe that to ensure the safety of American children, we need a moratorium on the hormonal and surgical treatment of young people with gender dysphoria. In the past 15 years, according to Reuters, the U.S. has gone from having no pediatric gender clinics to more than 100. A thorough analysis should be undertaken to find out what has been done to their patients and why—and what the long-term consequences are. There is a clear path for us to follow. Just last year England shut down the Tavistock Centre, the only youth gender clinic in the country, after an investigation revealed shoddy practices and poor patient treatment. Sweden and Finland, too, have investigated pediatric transition and greatly curbed the practice, finding there is insufficient evidence of help, and danger of great harm.
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In an observation that stopped me in my tracks, Reed says that it's not fair, in her mind, to refer to these procedures as a large-scale experiment on children. Why not? "Experiments are supposed to be carefully designed. Hypotheses are supposed to be tested ethically," She concludes. "The doctors I worked alongside at the Transgender Center said frequently about the treatment of our patients: 'We are building the plane while we are flying it.' No one should be a passenger on that kind of aircraft." It is offensive and actively dangerous to dismiss this sort of testimony, and extremely serious questions about it, as "anti-LGBT" bigotry. A debt of gratitude is owed to people like Ms. Reed for having the courage to shine a light on what's happening, fully aware of the inevitable, hysterical blowback. Shame on anyone who tries to silence her voice or cast aside her testimony over a cultural and political agenda.  On the subject of parental rights in this realm, I'll leave you with these stories:

How on earth was that vote on 50-48?  This is also the obvious pushback against people complaining about the Free Press story quoted extensively above:


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