Complaint filed against surgeons marketing trans surgery to teens on Instagram, posting gruesome photos

Photo: Unsplash/Katka Pavlickova
Photo: Unsplash/Katka Pavlickova

A coalition of parents in Canada filed a complaint against a gender clinic and two of its surgeons who use gruesome photos in their marketing of transgender surgeries to young people on Instagram.

The complaint to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario highlights the McLean clinic in Mississauga and Drs. Hugh McLean and Giancarlo McEvenue, asking the organization to review the impact social media has on impressionable young minds and the standard of care applied to youth who self-identify as transgender.

The parent coalition that filed the complaint includes Canadian Gender Report, Parents of ROGD Kids, Canadian Women’s Sex-based Rights and GNC Centric.

"There is a several thousand percent increase in the number of youth seeking medical means to change their gender in Europe, Australia, and North America. In the past year, the Ministers of Health of the UK and Australia have ordered government inquiries to understand why the number of adolescents seeking gender transition is increasing so rapidly," the complaint notes.

"The exponentially increasing rates of youth presenting as gender dysphoric, combined with the increasing numbers of detransitioners emphasize the need to take a more cautious approach in terms of intervention until more research has been conducted."

Such detransitioners — individuals who once lived and identified as transgender or nonbinary — have become more visible in recent months as the experimental medicalization of gender has begun receiving more government scrutiny, court cases have been initiated, and young men and women who pursued that pathway but now regret doing so take to social media to speak about their experiences, detailing how their bodies were harmed.

"With more and more detransitioners coming forward, the medical community would be negligent if they don't take a closer look at what's going on. And I don't think the general public is aware of how experimental the treatment is and how much marketing and promotion is behind it," said Pamela Buffone, founder of the Canadian Gender Report, in an interview with The Christian Post Monday.

"What we can see is that there have been lots of stories of successful and happy transgender people in the media with their experiences depicted in highly positive and simplistic terms. There is almost no discussion in the media about detransitioners although we are only starting to see this trend of young people expressing regret very recently."

Asked how the complaint originated, Buffone said that many parents of kids who have been affected by what is known as rapid-onset gender dysphoria (ROGD) have been monitoring McLean Clinic's social media activity for a while and noticed how the outfit has openly solicited business for female-to-male "gender-affirming" surgeries.

"It is obvious from the social media channels they use and the nature of their posts, that they’ve identified teenage and young adult women as their target market. Even their website URL is carefully crafted to leverage specific keywords so that their clinic will come up first in a Google search (, and their frequent blog posts are rich with targeted keywords to ensure their website will remain at the top of Google search results," Buffone explained.

"They’ve designed a marketing strategy around an extremely vulnerable group of young people and we filed the complaint to raise this issue to the College of Physicians and Surgeons so they can decide whether this is in breach of their professional standards."

Some of the photos that appear on the McLean clinic's Instagram account show the results of gender surgeries, particularly shirtless post-surgery young women who have had their breasts removed, bearing their scars. One such image shows McEvenue wearing both a surgical mask and a Santa hat while holding up two small buckets labeled "breast tissue."

"The patient information disclosed on the McLean Instagram site is protected health information per Section 4 of the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA)," the complaint states, and the clinic is disclosing information that identifies an individual, or, according to the text of the law, “for which it is reasonably foreseeable in the circumstances that it could be utilized, either alone or with other information, to identify an individual.”

Posting such content contravenes CPSO guidelines, which state that doctors ought to consider how technology use can cause the public to view them as unprofessional, the complaint goes on to say, noting how the amputated breasts and body tissue of patients are not treated with dignity in the Instagram photos and that many such patients seem to be minors.

The complaint concludes by asking CPSE to order McLean and McEvenue to stop their posting of material that violates PHIPA patient privacy requirements for trans-identifying persons on social media and to clarify the ethical requirements for members about the marketing of surgical procedures to minors, particularly those who may be suffering from mental illness or gender confusion.

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