Washington University to end gender-affirming care for all minors

gender-affirming care
gender-affirming care
Published: Sep. 11, 2023 at 5:00 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 11, 2023 at 10:33 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- Washington University in St. Louis will stop prescribing puberty blockers and hormones to minors for the purpose of gender transition, the university announced Monday. It will refer any minor patients currently receiving that care to other providers.

Rabbi Daniel Bogard’s son is only 10-years-old but Bogard says from his earliest moments his son, whose identity he keeps private for safety, was expressing himself as a boy.

“He turned to me and he said daddy do you think God could make me over again as a boy,” Rabbi Bogard says.

A new Missouri law banning minors from beginning gender-affirming treatments allowed an exception for youth who began treatment before August 28 to continue it. Washington University cited a “new legal claim” for patients who received medications as minors in its decision to discontinue the care for all minors. The university published a statement Monday on the decision.

“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,” part of the statement reads.

“You cross the river and you are more free as a human being than you are here in Missouri,” Rabbi Bogard says. “It’s just another sign for him that he is not welcome in Missouri.”

Michael Walk’s 17-year-old daughter has been transitioning at WashU’s transgender center for the last three years.

“Being affirmed in her gender has been a life-changing experience for her,” Walk says.

Walk says his daughter, whose name is also kept private, has always been treated with care.

“She is thriving,” Walk says. “She is doing great. Her grades are incredible and she is free of any anti-depressants. She is completely fine. Far more fine than she was when she was not presenting as who she is.”

WashU ending that care impacts her firsthand. Walk says his family is now finding another way to get her the proper care.

“We will not allow her to be forced to be de-transitioned,” Walk says. “That’s non-negotiable. That would be disastrous to her mental health and as well as she is doing, and honestly thriving in every aspect of her life, we can’t let that happen.”

Susan Halla is the board president for a support organization called TransParent.

Halla has also been through this with her son Joey, who transitioned while in high school and received care from WashU.

“It’s incredibly depressing for kids that are unable to be their authentic selves and that’s truly what it is,” Halla says.

Halla says Joey will never move back to Missouri and says this decision will be detrimental to people across the state.

“There will be children who will die,” Halla says. “There will be families that are moving out of state. All of that tax base is gone. People will not move to Missouri because of this.”

Rabbi Bogard says his family is questioning whether or not they can stay in St. Louis in the future.

“I live here in my grandparents home that my grandpa built, that my dad grew up in, that I grew up in, that my son lives in my childhood bedroom,” Rabbi Bogard says. “We’re terrified we’re going to have to flee the state.”

Halla says her organization is looking to help families find places that offer care out-of-state and even provide financial help.

Washington University will continue to offer education and mental health support for its transgender patients. Medical care for patients 18 and older will not be affected by the decision.

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey launched an investigation into the Washington University Pediatric Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital in February after a whistleblower complaint regarding its practices. Jamie Reed, a former case manager at the center, alleged the center used puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones without the complete informed consent of the parents of children getting treatment.

In its statement Monday, Washington University maintained its medical practitioners provided care with consent from patients and their families.

“Our medical practitioners have cared for these patients with skill and dedication,” the statement said. “They have continually provided treatment in accordance with the standard of care and with informed consent of patients and their parents or guardians. We are grateful to our providers for their dedication to their patients and their profession.”