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“Gender-affirming care” is medical malpractice

The mutilation of children is monstrous and must stop


A transgender activist stages a counterprotest during a rally in favor of a ban on “gender-affirming” health care legislation on March 20 at the Missouri Statehouse in Jefferson City, Mo. Associated Press/Photo by Charlie Riedel

“Gender-affirming care” is medical malpractice
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Back in a February, a dramatic whistleblower exposé should have made more headlines than it did. Jamie Reed, a former case manager at the Washington University Pediatric Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, quit her job in outrage and regret. She had fully believed in the goodness of what is called “gender-affirming care” and had worked with the clinic to helped minors change their sex. What changed her mind? The physical effects.

Seeing what medical transition truly means, Reed came to believe the practice is harmful and should be discontinued. Her testimony is the latest of a growing number of dissenters, and it ought to wake Americans up to this medical and moral crisis.

Reed reports that a clinic in St. Louis, Mo., for which she previously worked, has regularly been giving adolescent girls testosterone supplements that have caused extreme bodily harm. While promising to solve their dysphoria, they have instead left these young people with horrible side effects, including, in some cases, permanent sterilization. Reed was also concerned that many of her patients arrived in peer groups, all claiming to have the same condition. Many of them also claimed to have other comorbidities that were clearly not legitimate.

Giving hormone supplements to young people interferes with their natural development, in both body and mind. This is why these sorts of treatments are commonly called “puberty blockers.” But the human body does not come with a pause button, and while growth may be altered or delayed, actual aging is not. To communicate the gravity of all of this, Reed gets into the specifics. She reports side effects including liver toxicity, genital bleeding, and anatomical malformations. Some of these conditions will be chronic and require a lifetime of medication and other treatments. Again, remember that these patients are teenagers.

Reed explains:

I doubt that any parent who’s ever consented to give their kid testosterone (a lifelong treatment) knows that they’re also possibly signing their kid up for blood pressure medication, cholesterol medication, and perhaps sleep apnea and diabetes. 

Reed’s testimony is shocking, but the information is not new. Similar disturbing stories have been reported by de-transitioners themselves. Studies into the drug Lupron, used to postpone or block puberty, have shown that it significantly decreases bone density. Increased scrutiny has forced the closure of clinics in Sweden and England. But America is continuing on, even accelerating its practice. What accounts for the difference? Transparency and broader public knowledge.

Advocates of these practices mask the reality of what is occurring by playing games with language.

As more people see what the euphemistic label “gender-affirming care” actually entails, they change their minds. The results don’t look like health. The practice looks like malpractice.

Jamie Reed is also clear that “healthcare providers” at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital would give potentially life-altering treatments to children without appropriate parental consent. She even claims that some workers lied about what the treatment would consist of and what its effects could be. Some physicians, it seems, are willing to “do harm” in the name of higher ideological commitments.

The physical effects and side-effects of “gender-affirming care” are indeed unsettling. Most people would prefer not to talk about them. Many would probably prefer not to know. But the specifics matter, and the more they are discussed, the more minds can and will change. We must talk about them.

At the present, advocates of these practices mask the reality of what is occurring by playing games with language. They attack critics, naming them “transphobes” and proponents of “conversion theory.” The reality is precisely the opposite. It is the “gender-affirming care” that attempts a conversion. It promises to construct new genitals from body tissue and healthy body parts are often removed, leaving serious scars. Otherwise healthy young people are promised a transformation, but without the admission that it will come with a lifetime of terrible physical and mental suffering.

Christians must show compassion to individuals struggling with questions about sexuality and conditions like gender dysphoria. But out of compassion, we must tell the truth. People afflicted with gender dysphoria are suffering under a disease, but the solution is not to cater to the demands of that disease. The solution is instead to help people accept and love their bodies, their own bodies. We must tell them that they were created after God’s own image, and that God did not make a mistake. He loves them and wants them to love themselves as they are loved by Him and were made by Him.

And when it comes to doctors and institutions transitioning minors through the use of pharmaceuticals or surgery, there can be no soft-pedaling. Interfering with natural puberty has terrible effects. It causes brittle bones, deteriorating jaws, and cracking teeth. It turns adolescents into lifelong heart patients. It removes healthy sexual organs, which cannot be replaced. It is morally wrong. It is a human tragedy. And it must stop.


Steven Wedgeworth

Steven Wedgeworth is the rector of Christ Church Anglican in South Bend, Ind. He has written for Desiring God Ministries, the Gospel Coalition, the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and Mere Orthodoxy and served as a founding board member of the Davenant Institute. Steven is married and has three children.


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