Jamie Reed is “a queer woman, and politically to the left of Bernie Sanders.” She’s “married to a transman” with whom she is raising her “two biological … and three foster children.” In November, she left her job as a case manager at the Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
Yesterday, Reed published her story of how she went from advocate to whistleblower in the online publication The Free Press, in a piece titled, “I Thought I Was Saving Trans Kids. Now I’m Blowing the Whistle.”
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 … 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. … 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.
Reed quickly found that her initial assumption about the scientific support for the course of treatment being prescribed was unfounded.
Soon after my arrival at the Transgender Center, I was struck by the lack of formal protocols for treatment. The center’s physician co-directors were essentially the sole authority.
Reed confirms that the disproportionate number of young patients she worked with at the clinic, especially in recent years, were girls. Often, there was clear evidence that their dysphoria was most likely the result of social contagion.
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.
Reed describes how quickly other mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and even autism, were downplayed in favor of a gender identity diagnosis, and how quickly the clinic was able to begin the “transitioning” process, including a testosterone prescription. Her descriptions of specific patients unaware of the immediate and long-term risks of taking testosterone are even more difficult to read.
Another disturbing aspect of the center was its lack of regard for the rights of parents—and the extent to which doctors saw themselves as more informed decision-makers over the fate of these children.
My concerns about this approach to dissenting parents grew in 2019 when one of our doctors actually testified in a custody hearing against a father who opposed a mother’s wish to start their 11-year-old daughter on puberty blockers. …
[Though] the girl just didn’t meet the criteria for an evaluation … [o]ur providers decided the girl was trans and prescribed a puberty blocker.
There’s so much more to the story, but for Reed the end came when she heard Dr. Rachel Levine, an official of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, claim that “clinics are proceeding carefully and … no American children are receiving drugs or hormones for gender dysphoria who shouldn’t.”
That, Reed said, simply “wasn’t true.” She has now filed her concerns with the attorney general of Missouri and has gone public with what she saw behind clinic doors.
“I am a progressive,” writes Reed. “But the safety of children should not be a matter for our culture wars.”
Anyone tempted to think we don’t have a crisis on our hands, that these terrible things are not really happening, or that the Church should stay out of it, should first reckon with Reed’s detailed and documented story.
For more resources to live like a Christian in this cultural moment, go to colsoncenter.org.
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