Missouri AG calls for transgender clinic to stop giving kids hormones during malpractice probe

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Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey has called for an “immediate moratorium” on puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for new underage patients at the Washington University Transgender Center in St. Louis, citing allegations of “illegal conduct and malpractice.”

Mr. Bailey urged the center to stop issuing new prescriptions to minors while the state conducts a multi-agency investigation into whistleblower claims that the center reflexively pushed experimental drugs on children with little individualized screening and sometimes without parental consent.

“I want Missouri to be the safest state in the nation for children, which is why we are calling for an immediate moratorium on the Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital prescribing puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones to any new patients,” said Mr. Bailey. “We are hopeful that the leaders of these institutions will choose to do the right thing for the safety of Missouri’s children, as we work to root out any possibility of children being harmed by predatory adults with a radical social agenda.”

Sen. Josh Hawley, Missouri Republican, also launched an investigation after former center caseworker Jamie Reed went public in a Thursday report in The Free Press headlined, “I Thought I Was Saving Trans Kids. Now I’m Blowing the Whistle.”

“That report presented substantial evidence that, like so many other pediatric gender clinics across the United States, this Missouri-based clinic appears to have been operating without transparency, oversight, and accountability — and causing devastating harm to children in the process,” Mr. Hawley said in a Thursday letter to university officials.

Ms. Reed, who described herself as a “42-year-old St. Louis native, a queer woman, and politically to the left of Bernie Sanders,” said she worked at the center for nearly four years but left in November over concerns that “we are permanently harming the vulnerable patients in our care.”

Her 23-page sworn affidavit said the center is “using experimental drugs on children, distributing puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones without individualized assessment, and even giving children these life-altering drugs without parental consent,” according to the attorney general’s summary.

“The whistleblower says that the actions taken by the Center have led children to attempt suicide and that the Center never discontinues prescribing cross-sex hormones, no matter how much those drugs are harming the child,” said the summary. “The whistleblower also has provided documentary evidence that the Center has been unlawfully billing state taxpayers to fund these actions.”

Washington University in St. Louis released a statement saying it was “alarmed by the allegations reported in the article published by The Free Press describing practices and behaviors the author says she witnessed while employed at the university’s Transgender Center.”

“We are taking this matter very seriously and have already begun the process of looking into the situation to ascertain the facts,” said the university. “As always, our highest priority is the health and well-being of our patients. We are committed to providing compassionate, family-centered care to all of our patients and we hold our medical practitioners to the highest professional and ethical standards.”

This is a sickening account of forced sterilization and child abuse. Happening in Missouri at an institution that receives federal taxpayer funds. Today my office is launching an investigation. Missouri children deserve to be protected https://t.co/oDvPaRC1qs

— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) February 9, 2023

In her affidavit, Ms. Reed said that on several occasions, “doctors continued prescribing medical transition even when a parent stated that they were revoking consent.”

She also said that doctors lied when they denied publicly that the center does surgeries on minors, saying that it “regularly refers minors for gender transition surgery.”

“During medical visits with patients, I have personally heard providers report that they examined results of gender transition surgeries on minors,” Ms. Reed said. “This includes examining the scar tissue and healing of sutures of breast surgeries.”

While the center says that puberty blockers are used to give children time to figure out their gender identity, Ms. Reed said that the clinic “does not use puberty blockers for this purpose.”

“Instead, the Center uses puberty blockers just until children are old enough to be put on cross-sex hormones,” she said. “Doctors at the Center always prescribe cross-sex hormones for children who have been taking puberty blockers.”

The number of pediatric transgender clinics has exploded to more than 100 since the first such program was established in 2007 at Boston Children’s Hospital, fueling concerns about the harms of giving potentially irreversible drugs to kids and teens.

Proponents argue that the treatments reduce the risk of suicide for those with gender dysphoria, but Ms. Reed said that she has seen puberty blockers “worsen the mental health outcomes of children.”

“Children who have not contemplated suicide before being put on puberty blockers have attempted suicide after,” she said.

From 2020-22, Ms. Reed said the center began medically treating more than 600 children, about 74% of whom were female seeking to transition to male.

“These procedures were paid for mostly by private insurance, but during this time, it is my understanding that the Center also billed the cost for these procedures to state and federal publicly funded insurance programs,” she said in the affidavit.

A half-dozen states have passed restrictions on gender-transition treatments for minors over the objections of Democrats and LGBTQ advocates, who argue that laws banning “gender-affirming care” place at risk the health and mental well-being of transgender youth.

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