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Tipsheet

Mother of Trans Child Says She Felt ‘Bullied’ By Doctors Who Provide Children’s ‘Gender-Affirming’ Care

AP Photo/Armando Franca

A mother of a child who underwent irreversible transgender health services said that she felt “bullied” by doctors into allowing her underage son to receive a puberty blocker in his arm. And, the same doctors refused to remove it when her child began thinking about suicide, she said.

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The mother, Caroline, spoke to The Free Press’ Emily Yoffe about her and her son’s experience at The Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Her son, “Casey,” received a puberty blocker called Supprelin in his arm to “help relieve his psychological distress” surrounding his gender at 14 years old.

“Casey” soon experienced a “devastating decline” from the drug. He went from earning all As and Bs in school to Ds and Fs. He found it “impossible” to get out of bed in the morning and was absent from school so much that he was required to attend an official meeting about his truancy with a circuit court judge. He gained 30 pounds, and, during a therapy session, revealed that he’d been thinking about killing himself.

At that point, Caroline wrote an email to the clinic demanding the removal of the puberty blocker from her son’s arm. The doctors disagreed, and to this day, Casey still has Supprelin in his arm.

In February, Jamie Reed, a former staffer at the clinic, came forward to The Free Press in a bombshell report stating how “morally and medically appalling” the treatment at the clinic was. Specifically, Reed noted that the center fast-tracked transgender care for kids and that the whole operation felt like “building the plane while we are flying it,” which Townhall covered. In response, the clinic put out a statement saying they were “alarmed by the allegations” and “already begun the process of looking into the situation to ascertain the facts.”

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Caroline’s sister, a nurse, sent her the story. Caroline said she felt “validated” and then came forward to the Press. In an online call, writer Emily Yoffe said that she spoke with Casey and that he shared with her the social contagion surrounding transgender identities among young kids (via The Free Press):

Casey is charming, intelligent, and thoughtful. He enjoys the arts, participating in a range of musical extracurriculars. Due to the puberty blocker, he seems younger than his 16 years, with a hairless face and the voice of a young teen boy. 

Casey expressed no discomfort with his sex as a child, but when he turned 13, he said, he discovered through friends and online that “transgenderism was a thing.” He started researching this and felt, “Holy crap! You can do that?” Soon he declared he was “gender fluid.” Casey explains, “This means that my gender changed based on the day. Then it got to the point where I was never feeling masculine or like a boy.” After about six months of being gender fluid, Casey says, “I decided that I was a fully transgender girl. Like I wanted to present as a girl and I wanted people to see me as a girl. So, I started to socially transition. I was going by a different name and using she/her pronouns.”

When the Press reached out to Reed regarding Casey’s story, Reed said she “vividly remembers the case” and that it disturbed her so much that “it was part of [her] decision to leave the center[.]” 

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In Reed’s bombshell report, she had said that kids could get gender-affirming care after a couple quick visits with a therapist. Caroline’s experience with the center corroborated this.

In Casey’s visits with a therapist, Caroline said she became “more disturbed by how the therapist seemed to gloss over the enormous implications of the decision in front of them” regarding gender transitioning, because they had been informed that their son could become sterile. The therapist simply said that they could bank Casey’s sperm if they were worried about sterility.

Caroline said that the adults never had time to discuss without her son in the room. And, the therapist said “it’s what Casey wants, and we want Casey to feel comfortable.”

Caroline also shared that staffers shared alarming statistics about suicide, in front of Casey, when she seemed resistant to allowing her son to get the arm implant.

“I was flabbergasted, and I really felt like this is not a meeting for me to get answers to my questions, and for everybody to have equal say,” Caroline told the outlet. “This is like I’m the last man standing and now it’s being implied that if I don’t okay this, I don’t care if my kid kills himself,” adding that it felt like “the therapist was planting the idea for him right there.” 

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In April 2022, when Casey first shared he was thinking about suicide, nobody at the center seemed concerned about the impact the Supprelin was having on his mental health:

Caroline expected that after this event, people at the center would focus on the role the puberty blocker might be playing in Casey’s continued mental health decline. But they weren’t. Reed was stunned by the lack of care. She said, “We initiated a blocker, the child’s mental health is getting worse—the psychologist sees it’s getting worse—and there is no discussion as to whether this intervention is working the way it was supposed to, and does it need to stop.”

Caroline penned an angry email to the center revoking consent of the treatment. But, because she shared custody with her son’s father, and the father was okay with the implant, it was not removed. Reed shared in her bombshell report that the center made things difficult for the parents who objected to their children receiving treatment.

When Reed learned of Caroline's experience, she said: “That just sickens me. I just can’t imagine how powerless you would feel as a parent in that moment. To feel you have to go up against this monolithic medical institution, having no money for an attorney, and feeling bullied to start with.” 

Now, Casey identifies as “non-binary.” The implant, which was meant to last two years to prevent puberty, will be removed in July. This is more than a year after Caroline initially asked for it to be removed.

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“I do feel I come off a bit childish, because I do look younger,” Casey said, adding that “It is a struggle for me, because there’s a lot of uncertainty with the changes that I’ll have to go through. It's just kind of scary.”

“There’s no precedent for this type of treatment,” Caroline said. “How do they know this is the right answer? How do they go to this extreme?”

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