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Investigations into St. Louis pediatric transgender clinic opened after whistleblower report

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Lawmakers in Missouri have announced at least two official investigations into a children’s transgender clinic in St. Louis, after a whistleblower revealed Thursday in a sworn statement that she witnessed doctors, among other things, prescribing puberty-blocking drugs to minors without parental consent.

In a Feb. 10 blog post, a former employee of the Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Childrens Hospital, Jamie Reed, said she left in November 2022 because the hospital was, in her view, “permanently harming the vulnerable patients in our care.”

“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,” Reed wrote. 

In addition to putting numerous minors on puberty blockers and other drugs, Reed claimed her former clinic “regularly refers minors for gender transition surgery” and performed at least one double mastectomy on a minor at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. In a two-year period from 2020 to 2022, the clinic “initiated medical transition for more than 600 children. About 74% of these children were assigned female at birth,” Reed wrote in her sworn statement.

“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.”

An investigation into the hospital’s practices based on Reed’s allegations began two weeks ago, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey said in a Thursday announcement. 

“As attorney general, I want Missouri to be the safest state in the nation for children,” Bailey said in the Feb. 9 announcement, noting that his office was waiting for Reed to go public before they announced the investigation.

“We have received disturbing allegations that individuals at the Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital have been harming hundreds of children each year, including by using experimental drugs on them. We take this evidence seriously and are thoroughly investigating to make sure children are not harmed by individuals who may be more concerned with a radical social agenda than the health of children.”

Washington University in St. Louis, which runs the clinic, said in a statement that it is “alarmed” by Reed’s allegations.

“We are taking this matter very seriously and have already begun the process of looking into the situation to ascertain the facts,” the statement reads.

“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.”

U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, announced on Thursday that his office is also launching an investigation.

‘Clusters of girls’

Reed describes herself as a “queer woman” who supports “trans rights.” She says she worked as a case manager at the pediatric transgender clinic — which opened in 2017 — for four years, during which time she raised concerns to the hospital’s management about what she was witnessing.

“During my time at the center, I personally witnessed center health care providers lie to the public and to parents of patients about the treatment, or lack of treatment, and the effects of treatment provided to children at the center,” Reed wrote in her affidavit.

“I witnessed staff at the center provide puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to children without complete informed parental consent and without an appropriate or accurate assessment of the needs of the child. I witnessed children experience shocking injuries from the medication the center prescribed. And I saw the center make no attempt or effort to track adverse outcomes of patients after they left the center.”

In her blog post at the website thefp.com, Reed said over the four years she was at the clinic she observed a notable increase in the number of teenage girls wishing to “transition” and become boys.

“When I started there were probably 10 such calls a month. When I left there were 50, and about 70% of the new patients were girls. Sometimes clusters of girls arrived from the same high school,” she wrote in her blog post.

“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.”

To begin the gender transition process, the hospital required only a letter of support from a therapist, Reed said. Reed said it was clear to her that the minors undergoing transition had no idea how drastic the changes to their bodies would be, especially due to side effects of the medications they were taking.

“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,” Reed noted.

“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.”

One doctor, Reed claimed, was giving patients an anti-cancer drug called bicalutamide, which can poison the liver.

“There are no clinical studies for using this drug for gender transitions, and there are no established standards of care for using this drug,” she noted.

Reed said she witnessed doctors continuing transition treatments even after parents, in writing, revoked their consent.

“I doubt that any parent who’s ever consented to give their kid testosterone (a lifelong treatment) knows that they’re also possibly signing their kid up for blood pressure medication, cholesterol medication, and perhaps sleep apnea and diabetes.”

The clinic claimed, Reed said, that a gender “transition” would make it less likely that the patient would commit suicide and appeared eager to suggest gender transition as the response for almost any mental health issue that patients presented.

“[N]o matter how much suffering or pain a child had endured, or how little treatment and love they had received, our doctors viewed gender transition — even with all the expense and hardship it entailed — as the solution,” Reed said.

Reed said she observed firsthand a number of heartbreaking custody battles involving parents who disagreed about whether their child should undergo a transition. In one case, a father strenuously objected to a mother’s desire to put her 11-year-old daughter on puberty blockers.

“In Missouri, only one parent’s consent is required for treatment of their child. But when there was a dispute between the parents, it seemed the center always took the side of the affirming parent.”

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Investigations into St. Louis pediatric transgender clinic opened after whistleblower report