Washington University Transgender Center won’t stop giving drugs to minors amid malpractice probes

The Washington University Transgender Center in St. Louis has refused to stop giving hormones and puberty blockers to minors during a state investigation into potential malpractice and abuse, much to the frustration of Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey.

Mr. Bailey pushed back after his call for a moratorium was rejected this week by BJC Health President and CEO Richard J. Liekweg and Washington University in St. Louis Chancellor Andrew D. Martin.

“The allegations that the whistleblower has brought to our attention are frightening, and they have to be taken seriously. That’s why we called for this moratorium,” Mr. Bailey said Thursday night on Fox News Channel’s “The Ingraham Angle.”

“If the clinic is serious about protecting patients and instituting control measures, the best control measure at this point in time is a moratorium on these types of procedures,” the Republican attorney general said.

Mr. Bailey is leading a multi-agency state investigation into allegations by former case manager Jamie Reed, who accused the center of reflexively prescribing experimental drugs for minors with little psychiatric screening and in some cases without parental consent.

“Why is the clinic in such a hurry to prescribe medication and surgery instead of psychology and psychiatry?” Mr. Bailey asked. “Why aren’t they talking to these kids about their mental-health problems instead of immediately jumping to irreversible medication and surgery?”

In their letter, the healthcare and university officials warned that a moratorium could do more harm than good, given that the Washington University center is the only place in Missouri “where transgender youth can access the care they need to ensure their physical and mental well-being.”

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“Therefore, we cannot institute a moratorium that would deny critical, standards-based care to current and new patients,” said the Tuesday letter posted by KMOV-TV in St. Louis. “Out of an abundance of caution, however, we are establishing additional oversight at the Transgender Center, and we will continue our internal review of practices at the center to ensure that our patients and families are receiving the appropriate guidance and care for their individual medical needs.”

Mr. Bailey said his office would “stand up and fight back and say no and protect the children of the state of Missouri,” including bringing criminal charges if warranted against any “rogue doctors.”

“Look, the whistleblower in her affidavit states that some really dangerous and frightening things were happening, where parents were being told they could either have a live daughter or a dead son,” he said. “They weren’t being given full, informed parental consent before they were making these decisions to give life-altering medication to their kids.”

Also investigating the center is Sen. Josh Hawley, Missouri Republican, who said Friday he has set up a tipline for whistleblowers with information about “potential malpractice and abuses” at pediatric transgender centers.

“This includes patients, family members or employees associated with these clinics who wish to come forward,” the senator’s office said.

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Those with information were urged to call his Washington office at 202-224-6154 or send an email to tips@hawley.senate.gov.

Mr. Bailey last week released a sworn affidavit from Ms. Reed, a self-described “42-year-old St. Louis native, a queer woman, and politically to the left of Bernie Sanders,” who also detailed her concerns in a Feb. 9 article in the Free Press.

She said she transferred jobs last year after becoming convinced that the center was “permanently harming the vulnerable patients in our care.”

Mr. Hawley said the Washington University chancellor assured him that “the whistleblower who came forward will not face retaliation.”

The senator introduced legislation Wednesday that would create a private right of action for lawsuits filed by those who say they were harmed by gender-transition procedures as minors.

The bill also would prohibit federal funding to “any pediatric gender clinic, to any university or hospital that is affiliated with a pediatric gender clinic, and for any gender-transition procedure performed on minors.”

The number of U.S. gender-transition clinics has soared to more than 100 since the first one was launched at Boston Children’s Hospital in 2007, heightening concerns about the harms of giving potentially irreversible drugs to kids and teens.