Children's hospital probed by Missouri AG halts puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones for minors

St. Louis Children's Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. | Screenshot: Google Maps

A children's hospital that faced an investigation this year from Missouri's attorney general announced that it will no longer prescribe puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones to minors as a state law prohibiting gender transition procedures for minors has taken effect.

Washington University in St. Louis released a statement Monday announcing that "Washington University physicians will no longer prescribe puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones to minors for purposes of gender transition."

Washington University operates the Transgender Center at St. Louis Children's Hospital, which opened in 2017 and was accused by a whistleblower who claimed clinic staff were pushing gender transition hormone drugs on minors. 

In its statement, the university stated that those who have begun the gender transition process will be "referred to other providers." 

"We are disheartened to have to take this step," the statement continued. "However, Missouri's newly enacted law regarding transgender care has created a new legal claim for patients who received these medications as minors. This legal claim creates unsustainable liability for health-care professionals and makes it untenable for us to continue to provide comprehensive transgender care for minor patients without subjecting the university and our providers to an unacceptable level of liability." 

Missouri's Republican Gov. Mike Parson signed Senate Bill 49, the Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act, into law on June 7. In a statement, Parson described the legislation as necessary to "protect children from making life-altering decisions that they could come to regret in adulthood once they have physically and emotionally matured." 

Describing such procedures as "harmful" and "irreversible," Parson stressed that "these decisions have permanent consequences for life and should not be made by impressionable children who may be in crisis or influenced by the political persuasions of others." 

Senate Bill 49 states that "a health care provider shall not knowingly perform a gender transition surgery on any individual under eighteen years of age" and "shall not knowingly prescribe or administer cross-sex hormones or puberty-blocking drugs for the purpose of a gender transition for any individual under eighteen years of age." The law enables those who have already begun to receive the procedures before the measure took effect to continue doing so and includes a cause of action for minors harmed by them to sue medical providers. 

 Washington University defended the actions of the doctors, saying that they have "cared for these patients with skill and dedication."

"They have continually provided treatment in accordance with the standard of care and with informed consent of patients and their parents or guardians," the statement reads. "We are grateful to our providers for their dedication to their patients and their profession. We are committed to offering our support to patients and their families as they consider their options for future care."

In February, Missouri's Republican Attorney General Andrew Bailey called for a moratorium on the St. Louis Children's Hospital's performance of such procedures and launched an investigation into claims from a whistleblower that the Transgender Center was "permanently harming the vulnerable patients in [its] care."

As Bailey noted in a letter to St. Louis Children's Hospital President Trish Lollo and Washington University Chancellor Andrew Martin, the whistleblower alleged that "the Center has permanently sterilized hundreds of children, caused many children to attempt suicide, and performed irreversible gender-transition surgeries on minors — all while lying to the public and parents." 

Bailey wrote that the whistleblower's sworn affidavit stated that the center "prescribes puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones automatically, without individualized assessment of each child, and often without parental consent."

The whistleblower, former Transgender Center Case Manager Jamie Reed, elaborated on the consequences rash prescription of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones have had on trans-identified youth in an op-ed for The Free Press. 

In one case she witnessed, a 17-year-old girl who was prescribed testosterone suffered from severe bleeding. Reed said that "because testosterone thins the vaginal tissues, her vaginal canal had ripped open."

"She had to be sedated and given surgery to repair the damage. She wasn't the only vaginal laceration case we heard about."

In April, the university announced an internal investigation found that "allegations of substandard care causing adverse outcomes for patients at the Center are unsubstantiated." But the investigation "determined that a more detailed and formalized approach to the Center's process for documenting parental consent and obtaining custody documentation is warranted and that the University should take a more organized approach in responding to any requests of public engagement on the matter of transgender care."

The university also stated that over 1,100 patients have interacted with the center since 2018, over 500 of whom have received cross-sex hormones and 67 received puberty blockers.  

Twenty-one states have passed similar legislation as Missouri. The others are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.

The push to pass laws banning puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for minors comes amid concerns about the long-term effects of such procedures.

The American College of Pediatricians has listed potential side effects of puberty-blocking drugs as "osteoporosis, mood disorders, seizures, cognitive impairment and when combined with cross-sex hormones, sterility." ACP states that the potential long-term implications of cross-sex hormones for minors are "an increased risk of heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, blood clots and cancers across their lifespan."

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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