A former gender clinic case worker has spoken out about the appalling care children and adolescents who believe themselves to be members of the opposite sex receive at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital, calling for a moratorium on child sex changes in the US.
Jamie Reed, 42, who describes herself as a “St. Louis native, a queer woman, and politically to the left of Bernie Sanders,” began working at The Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s in 2018. In an essay in The Free Press, Reed describes a reckless environment of affirmation that fast-tracks mentally ill minors onto a medical pathway with life-altering consequences.
Reed described the social contagion of gender dysphoria that began around 2015. All of a sudden the patient cohort flipped from being a tiny number of boys in early childhood to a sudden explosion of distressed adolescent girls. She said that during her time at the clinic the “majority of them received hormone prescriptions that can have life-altering consequences including sterility,” despite the fact that most had multiple comorbidities, such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders and autism.
Some of the girls claimed to have disorders such as multiple personality disorder and Tourette’s, but they didn’t actually suffer from those ailments. Staff recognized these false self-diagnoses as being due to social contagion, but outright refused to acknowledge that the gender dysphoria was also socially influenced, instead insisting that it was innate.
Reed explained the center’s belief that “the earlier you treat kids with gender dysphoria, the more anguish you can prevent later on.” She wrongly assumed their certainty came from having abundant evidence to support performing sex changes on children. They didn't.
She refutes the Transgender Center’s claim that, if left untreated, gender dysphoria can lead to suicide or self-harm, rightly stating that there are no reliable studies to back this up. As well, the gender clinic whistleblower gave some examples of the devastating side effects experienced by youth put on the medical sex change pathway.
In 2020, a 17-year-old trans-identified female came to the emergency room bleeding heavily from her vagina. Doctors found that the testosterone she was on had caused her vaginal tissues to thin and her vaginal canal had ripped during intercourse. The patient needed surgery to repair the damage. Reed says this wasn’t the only case of vaginal laceration that they heard about.
Other female patients found what one TikTok gender surgeon calls “bottom growth” to be disturbing. Testosterone causes the clitoris to enlarge, so that it looks like a tiny penis, which many in the trans community call “T-d*ck.” This change is irreversible and can cause severe discomfort.
Reed advised one patient to wear “tucking” underwear as a way to deal with the pain of her micro-penis chafing against her jeans, and afterwards recalls thinking, “Wow, we hurt this kid.”
“[C]inics like the one where I worked are creating a whole cohort of kids with atypical genitals—and most of these teens haven’t even had sex yet,” Reed said. "They had no idea who they were going to be as adults. Yet all it took for them to permanently transform themselves was one or two short conversations with a therapist.”
As well as the sudden surge of teenage girls, Reed said the clinic started to receive referrals from the inpatient psychiatric unit at St. Louis, and that she saw youth with very serious mental health issues such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and PTSD put straight onto the gruelling medical sex change pathway.
One particularly disturbed teenager, who had been raised by a drug-addict mother and whose father was incarcerated, was living at the lockdown facility after sexually abusing dogs. While there he began identifying as female and, upon referral to the Transgender Center, was immediately approved for estrogen.
Another young man suffering from intense obsessive-compulsive disorder expressed a desire to cut off his penis after he masturbated. Despite not expressing any feelings of dysphoria, he was approved for hormones too.
Reed says she was also disturbed by the center’s “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.”
In 2019, the clinic had intervened in a custody battle between an affirming mother and a concerned father, siding with the mother who wanted to transition her daughter. The court ruled in favor of the mother.
Also in 2019, Reed said a new cohort of patients appeared on her radar: desisters, those who choose not to proceed with medical transition, and detransitioners, those who went through with a sex change and then go back to living as their birth sex.
Reed says the saddest case was a young black girl, from an unstable family, who was allowed to consent to having her healthy breasts amputated when she was only 18 years old. Just three months later, she called the clinic informing them of her detransition, saying, “I want my breasts back.”
For pushing back against what she saw as reckless and unethical care, Reed was given below-average marks in her performance reviews for “Judgment” and “Working Relationships and Cooperative Spirit” and told to “get on board, or get out.” She chose to get out.
Comments from Biden’s assistant secretary for health, Dr. Rachel Levine, prompted Reed to become a whistleblower. Levine said that “clinics are proceeding carefully and that no American children are receiving drugs or hormones for gender dysphoria who shouldn’t,” which was so far from Reed’s own first-hand experience that she set aside her political differences and wrote to the Republican attorney general of Missouri.
“I am a progressive,” she said. “But the safety of children should not be a matter for our culture wars.”
Reed recommends following the lead of England, Sweden and Finland, nations that have recently pivoted away from performing medical sex changes on children, reverting back to a more cautious psychotherapeutic approach.
“Experiments are supposed to be carefully designed. Hypotheses are supposed to be tested ethically. The doctors I worked alongside at the Transgender Center said frequently about the treatment of our patients: “We are building the plane while we are flying it.” No child should be a passenger on that kind of aircraft,” Reed concluded.
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