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Trans health group removed age recommendations for gender surgeries to protect doctors

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The co-author of a leading LGBT health association's new guidelines says they removed a section on the minimum age requirements for children to obtain puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones or undergo body-altering surgeries to protect doctors from lawsuits. 

Amy Tishelman is the author of the "Child" chapter in the World Professional Association for Transgender Health's (WPATH) Standards of Care 8th Edition guidelines published earlier this month in the International Journal of Transgender Health

On Monday, journalist Colin Wright tweeted a video of Tishelman explaining at an annual WPATH conference that the group removed its minimum age recommendation for "gender-affirming" hormones and surgeries to protect doctors from liability. 

"We were thinking, and it was scary for me, about the potential uses of the chapter for legal and insurance contexts," Tishelman said. "What we didn't want to do was create a chapter that would make it more likely that practitioners would be sued because they weren't following exactly what we said."

"We wanted there to be some clinician judgment without being at risk for being held in court for not sticking completely to these standards," she continued. "So, we did write them in a way I think so that ... there is leeway, that we recommend things, but then we suggest that clinicians use their judgment about what to do in therapy situations and in assessment situations so that they ... can use individualized clinical judgment and not face malpractice suits."

WPATH did not respond to The Christian Post's request for comment about the changes or Tishelman's remarks.

According to Tishelman's LinkedIn page, she works as a clinical psychologist at the Boston Children's Hospital and previously worked in the hospital's Gender Multispecialty Service. 

Boston Children's Hospital came under fire last month after the Twitter account Libs of TikTok published a video revealing a doctor there discussing how the hospital provides "gender-affirming hysterectomies." 

Screenshots provided by Libs of Tik Tok indicate that Boston Children's Hospital updated its website following outrage over the matter to state that its patients must be at least 18 years or older to qualify for vaginoplasty.

A data table featured in an article published earlier this year titled "A Single Center Case Series of Gender-Affirming Surgeries and the Evolution of a Specialty Anesthesia Team" reveals that 65 double mastectomies were performed on minor girls from 2017-2020.

The WPATH guidelines co-authored by Tishelman were published on Sept. 6. The organization issued a correction later in the month, removing sections related to "suggested minimal ages" for offering so-called "gender-affirming care" or "surgical treatment." 

Chapter 6 of the new guidelines asserts that double mastectomies can alleviate "chest dysphoria" in girls who identify as the opposite gender. The guide states that performing vaginoplasties — creating a fake vagina using penis tissue — on trans-identified boys can lead to "improved psychosocial functioning." 

"While the sample sizes are small, these studies suggest there may be a benefit for some adolescents to having these procedures performed before the age of 18," the guide reads. 

WPATH's new guide also recommends healthcare professionals providing "gender-affirming" treatment to youth involve parents or guardians in the process unless deemed "harmful" or unfeasible. 

WPATH maintains that helping youth work with their parents or caregivers is the "primary goal," clarifying that a "clinical evaluation process" is necessary to determine if parents have rejected their "child's gender needs." 

"In these situations, youth may require the engagement of larger systems of advocacy and support to move forward with the necessary support and care," the new guide advises.

According to a 2017 study titled "Age is Just a Number," published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, more than half of 20 surgeons affiliated with WPATH said they have "performed vaginoplasty [on] minors." 

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