Republican lawmakers plan to strip Vanderbilt Hospital of surgeries for transgender children – Tennessee Lookout

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Fueled by a Twitter report, Republican lawmakers plan to pass legislation in 2023 to block Vanderbilt University Medical Center from performing transgender pediatric surgeries.

Meanwhile, Governor Bill Lee has called for an investigation, and Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti’s office said it would use the “full extent” of its authority to ensure state law was followed.

House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, said in a statement that he was looking at “conflicting reports” on the matter, but noted that it was “inappropriate for a minor to undergo sex change surgery.” sex or puberty blockers”.

“Your biological sex at birth is your identity. There will be legislation tabled this session by many members to protect Tennesseans from this barbaric practice,” Sexton said.

Outrage surfaced among some lawmakers after conservative blogger Matt Walsh posted video and reports on Tuesday showing Vanderbilt officials discussing gender-affirming surgeries.

Walsh, a political commentator, blogger and podcaster for the conservative Daily Wire, made similar accusations on social media last month against Boston Children’s Hospital. Threats of violence against staff and doctors followed, including a bomb threat that forced the evacuation of the hospital.

“Your biological sex at birth is your identity. There will be legislation introduced this session by many members to protect Tennesseans from this barbaric practice,” House Speaker Cameron Sexton said Wednesday. (Photo: John Partipilo)

A statement released Wednesday by Vanderbilt University Medical Center noted that the famed university hospital is “now the subject of social media posts and a video that misrepresents the facts about the care the medical center provides to transgender patients”.

“VUMC launched its Transgender Health Clinic because transgender people are a population at high risk for mental and physical health issues and have historically been underserved by the American healthcare system.”

The statement noted that the hospital provides care to all adolescents “in accordance with state law and consistent with proactive professional standards and guidance established by medical specialty societies,” including requiring parental consent to treating minors for issues related to transgender care.

On Wednesday, the Vanderbilt Clinic for Transgender Health websites and associated pages regarding transgender care were down. The hospital did not respond to follow-up questions about the sites or whether there were any safety issues at the hospital.

Walsh posted a series of videos on Twitter on Wednesday that he says were taken in 2018 and 2020, including one featuring Vanderbilt doctor Dr. Shayne Taylor calling gender transition surgery a “big producer of ‘silver”. Some procedures, which are covered by the Affordable Care Act, could fetch up to $40,000 and others could cost $100,000, Taylor said in the video.

Taylor does not refer to children in the music video Walsh posted, which does not appear to contain all of his remarks.

Another video posted by Walsh features a Vanderbilt plastic surgeon discussing the guidelines doctors should follow before performing “superior surgeries” or double mastectomies on transgender patients. Requirements include a letter documenting persistent gender dysphoria from a licensed mental health provider and ensuring patients are able to make fully informed decisions on their own, the doctor said. Patients aged 16 or 17 who have taken testosterone and have parental consent may also be eligible, the doctor said.

But Walsh mischaracterized the remarks to suggest that after the children are “drugged and sterilized,” Vanderbilt surgeons “will happily perform double mastectomies on teenage girls.”

Walsh also posted an undated video of Dr. Ellen Clayton, professor of law, pediatrics and health policy at Vanderbilt, noting that “conscientious objections” to gender-affirming surgery are “problematic.”

“You’re doing something to another person and you’re not paying the price for your belief,” she said. “I think that’s a real problem,” she said. She noted that Vanderbilt would likely accept religious objections, but “it would not be without consequences.”

It is unclear from the edited clip released whether she was referring to consequences for patients or for staff.

In its statement, Vanderbilt University Medical Center noted that its policies “permit employees to refuse to participate in care they find morally wrong and do not permit discrimination against employees who choose to do so. includes employees whose personal or religious beliefs do not support gender-affirming care for transgender people.

Additionally, Walsh singled out Vanderbilt’s “Trans Buddies” program, for providing “trans activists” to accompany patients to appointments.

The program, according to a statement from VUMC, has won national acclaim for providing peer volunteers to support people seeking “highly personal care in an unfamiliar environment, and who may have been denied services. in the past or have avoided seeking them out of fear of being met with hostility.

Lt. Gov. Randy McNally and Sen. Ferrell Haile, who sponsored legislation in 2021 to restrict transgender drug therapy and surgery for prepubescent children, said they expect a bill addressing transgender medical care be sponsored in 2023 at the 113th General Assembly. summons.

Haile, a Republican from Gallatin, said his two concerns were making sure Vanderbilt Hospital followed state law and then making sure the hospital didn’t find loopholes.

He stressed that a “medical consideration” must be taken into account in any follow-up legislation, but declined to comment further on the matter.

McNally said Wednesday he believes ‘gender reassignment’ surgery should be delayed until a person is past puberty, even if parents give consent, because of the long-term impact on the patient.

“I think in many cases the individual, the child, later in life has some difficulty with what happened, and I think it’s best to wait and make sure that’s what he needs to do, if the parents and child are considering having something like this done,” said McNally, a Republican from Oak Ridge.

Matt Walsh has this history of stalking trans people. He really has a focus and an obsession with it.

– Chris Sanders, Tennessee Equality Project

Governor Lee released a statement saying he wanted the hospital investigated to ensure it was operating legally.

“Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s ‘Pediatric Transgender Clinic’ raises serious moral, ethical and legal concerns. We should not allow permanent life-changing decisions that harm children or policies that suppress religious freedoms, all for financial gain. We need to protect the children of Tennessee, and that warrants a thorough investigation,” Lee said.

And Skrmetti released his own statement, which said he was “aware of allegations of unlawful conduct at the Clinic for Transgender Health. General Skrmetti will use the full extent of his authority to ensure compliance with the laws of Tennessee.

Chris Sanders, executive director of the LGBTQ advocacy group Tennessee Equality Project, criticized the Twitter report’s source.

“Matt Walsh has this history of going after trans people. He really has a focus and an obsession with it. So what caught everyone off guard was this sudden firestorm that erupted over the gender-affirming care that was offered,” Sanders said Wednesday.

Rather than protecting children, Republican lawmakers’ rhetoric on Wednesday puts their safety and well-being at risk, said Vanderbilt University master’s student and researcher Jace Wilder.

“The fact that the attack on Vanderbilt is encouraged by the Lee administration is shameful,” he said.

“They use trans kids as political pawns. They say it will protect children, but it will still perpetuate violence,” Wilder added.

“Rather than using taxpayer dollars to investigate a world-renowned and respected health care facility,” Clemmons said, he would support investigations into Governor Lee’s use of no-tender contracts. , the non-use of federal funds for social assistance, the shortcomings of the Ministry of Children. services, departures of Lee’s cabinet members, and alleged bribery by state officials during the 2019 House vote on vouchers.

House Republican leaders filled Twitter with outrage, vowing to dismantle the Vanderbilt program.

Majority Leader William Lamberth said he was “deeply disturbed” by the report on social media.

“@GovBillLee is right to call for an investigation and we will support this investigation 100%. This type of child mutilation should be illegal and soon will be in TN,” Lamberth tweeted.

House Republican Caucus Chairman Jeremy Faison wrote on Twitter: “Giving hormone replacement therapy to minors is wrong, but threatening doctors with ‘consequences’ who have religious objections goes against everything this country.”

He added that he would lead the “fight” at the next session to stop the proceedings.

Their position, however, is at odds with a statement from the American Medical Association.

In a letter to the National Governors Association, Dr. James L. Madara, the association’s CEO and executive vice president, wrote that the group and its member governors oppose state legislation that would medically prohibit “gender transition care for underage patients”. because it represents a “dangerous government intrusion” into medical practice and could harm the health of transgender children nationwide.

State lawmakers have already passed legislation restricting gender-affirming hormones for children before puberty. Sanders pointed out that this type of medicine was not practiced when Haile sponsored his legislation.

A separate bill to ban hormone therapy and gender-affirming surgery for all minors failed the legislature earlier this year.

State Representative John Ray Clemmons, a Democrat from Nashville, criticized political outrage over the practices at Vanderbilt Hospital.

“Rather than using taxpayer dollars to investigate a world-renowned and respected health care facility,” Clemmons said, he would support investigations into Governor Lee’s use of no-tender contracts. , the non-use of federal funds for social assistance, the shortcomings of the Ministry of Children. services, departures of Lee’s cabinet members, and alleged bribery by state officials during the 2019 House vote on vouchers.

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