Missouri’s attorney general says his office and two other agencies are investigating a St. Louis transgender clinic for allegedly “harming hundreds of children.”
The center’s website says transgender-identifying youths can expect “gender-affirming care” that may include puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and “surgical referrals.” Attempts to obtain comment from the hospital were unsuccessful.
In a sworn statement filed with Bailey, Reed alleges the center’s doctors engaged in unethical practices, such as continuing to prescribe transition medications even after a child’s parent revoked consent—and after patients reported adverse effects after taking those prescriptions. And Missouri may not be the only place in the United States where such practices are occurring, some people suspect.
Reed’s revelations represent a watershed moment in the battle over the “medicalization” of transgender-identifying youths in the United States, activists say. They believe that Reed, a 42-year-old woman who is married to a transgender person, may be the nation’s first person to blow the whistle about the inner workings of a pediatric gender clinic.
Courage ApplaudedScott Newgent, a prominent opponent of the “medical transitioning” of children with drugs and surgeries to alter their appearance, applauded Reed’s courage in coming forward.
Newgent, who regrets undergoing sex-reassignment surgery in adulthood, has tirelessly pushed for states to outlaw these procedures for minors–a stance scorned by some in the LGBT community.
But Reed’s disclosures may encourage other people to divulge what they know about the nation’s pediatric gender clinics, Newgent said, predicting “the floodgates will open.”
The number of these clinics has exploded in recent years; there are now more than 100 in the United States. The trend toward expansion here, however, comes at a time when European countries are curtailing the medical transitioning of minors. Last year, England ordered its sole gender-identity clinic to close after substantiating allegations similar to those that Reed is making.
Parents Were ‘Lied To’During an online video conference on the evening of Feb. 9, Reed appeared with an attorney who has advised her, Vernadette Broyles of the Child and Parental Rights Campaign. Broyles said Reed is protected under whistleblower laws.
In that session, Reed asserted that the parents “trusted that the doctors were doing the assessments.”
“We lied to them all the time,” Reed said. Parents were told that their children would likely commit suicide unless they agreed to “transition” their child. “These doctors would push, and push, and push ... and somehow the doctors thought that was a true good consent.”
Asked what motivated doctors to advocate so strongly for these procedures, which can render children sterile, Reed said she wasn’t sure.
But Reed thinks doctors were so entrenched in their beliefs that they didn’t want to listen to contrary facts. In addition, children become committed to transitioning, and the children have said “they could not back out,” Reed said.
The mentality that surrounds gender transitioning of children is “very cult-like,” Reed said.
More SuicidalIn her affidavit, Reed said the center’s actions made vulnerable youths more suicidal.
Some parents and teens have told judges and lawmakers that hormone therapy was “life-changing” or even “life-saving” for some distressed trans-identifying youths.
But Reed said in her affidavit, “I have 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.”
In addition, Reed said it is her belief that the center doesn’t track negative outcomes “[because] they do not want to have to report them to new patients.”
Reed declared that “the Center does not require children to continue with mental health care after they prescribe cross-sex hormones or puberty blockers.”
This is despite the fact that children at the clinic have sometimes identified themselves as “inanimate objects like ‘mushroom,’ ‘rock,’ or ‘helicopter.’ Some patients have changed their identities ”on a day-to-day basis,” Reed said.
She also witnessed children who are clearly under a parent’s pressure to self-identify “in a way that is inconsistent with the child’s actual identity.”
Breasts RemovedReed alleges that the center has failed to properly counsel youths about the consequences of medical interventions.
One girl had her breasts removed at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Three months later, the patient contacted the surgeon and asked for her breasts to be “put back on,” Reed wrote.
The center has been dishonest in its representations to the public, she said.
“The Center tells the public and parents that it makes individualized decisions. That is not true,“ her affidavit says. ”Doctors at the Center believe that every child who meets four basic criteria—age or puberty stage, therapist letter, parental consent, and a one-hour visit with a doctor—is a good candidate for irreversible medical intervention.”
Liver DamageReed also expressed concern about risky practices used by one doctor at the center. He has been prescribing a pancreatic-cancer drug called Bicalutamide because it has a side effect of causing breasts to grow. But it can poison the liver, Reed wrote, and “there are no clinical studies for using this drug for gender transitions, and there are no established standards of care for using this drug.”
Improper Billing AllegedIn addition to those concerns about patient care, Reed also alleged financial wrongdoing.
Bailey said Reed “provided documentary evidence that the center has been unlawfully billing state taxpayers to fund these actions.”
The Missouri Department of Social Services is aiding in the financial and Medicaid aspect of the investigation, Bailey said.
From 2020-22, the center started medical transition for more than 600 children, Reed said; 74 percent of them were girls.
Although private insurance paid for most of the procedures, “it is my understanding that the Center also billed the cost for these procedures to state and federal publicly funded insurance programs,” Reed wrote.
The state’s Division of Professional Registration, which includes 41 licensing boards in 300 professions, is also investigating. That agency will “take any necessary action against the licenses of Missouri professionals in violation of the boards’ statutory and regulatory authority to ensure health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Missouri,” said Sheila Solon, agency director, in Bailey’s news release.