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Vanderbilt transgender health clinic suspends gender-affirming surgery for minors

The Independent logo The Independent 10/10/2022 Bevan Hurley
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Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) has suspended gender-affirming surgeries for patients under the age of 18 while it reviews its practices, officials said.

The announcement was revealed in a letter from university executive C Wright Pinson to Tennessee Republican state lawmaker Jason Zachary who posted it on Twitter.

Calls for an investigation into the clinic intensified after video surfaced on social media last month of a doctor claiming the gender-affirming surgeries were “huge money-makers” for hospitals.

The videos, shared by right-wing political commentator Matt Walsh, showed a VUMC doctor saying in 2018 that those “types of surgeries bring in a lot of money”.

A staff member said anyone with religious objections to the treatment should quit, in another leaked clip.

Republicans in Tennessee had pressured the private nonprofit hospital to pause surgeries on minors who were transitioning genders while it investigated the claims, the Associated Press reported.

Dr Pinson said in the letter that the suspension was due to a review of new guidance on treating transgender patients from the World Professional Association of Transgender Health, adding that the review “may take several months”.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee has suspended gender-affirming surgery for minors (Associated Press) © Provided by The Independent Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee has suspended gender-affirming surgery for minors (Associated Press)

Dr Pinson said the clinic had performed an average of five surgeries per year since it was established in 2018, and that all of the procedures were on children over 16.

The letter noted that new legal restrictions on gender-affirming care could be passed, and that it would comply fully with the law.

Gender-affirming care for minors have become a political lightning rod in conservative states.

In February, Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered the state Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate use of treatments such as hormone therapy and puberty blockers as child abuse. The order is being challenged in court.

Experts from the American Medical Association say that gender-affirming care, which helps a person transition from their designated gender at birth, is appropriate for minors who suffer gender dysphoria.

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