Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee called for "a thorough investigation" after a conservative author exposed Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) for advertising surgical and hormonal procedures for gender-confused youth as young as 13.
Pages detailing its transgender clinic and pediatric counterpart were removed from the VUMC website after Matt Walsh posted videos Tuesday of VUMC officials calling the clinics financially lucrative and warning that resistant employees would face "consequences" for not participating.
"We should not allow permanent, life-altering decisions that hurt children or policies that suppress religious liberties, all for the purpose of financial gain," Lee said in a statement to Just the News.
The governor called for "a thorough investigation" of pediatric procedures and alleged religious discrimination at VUMC, a legally distinct entity from the university. Spokesperson Casey Sellers said Lee's office has "shared concerns" with Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti. "A number of questions have been raised, and Tennesseans deserve answers," she said.
State Rep. William Lambert retweeted Walsh's announcement that they and Sen. Jack Johnson met to hash out legislation to "shut down Vanderbilt’s child gender transition program and ban the practice in the state."
"These surgeries make a lot of money," the VUMC adult clinic's primary care provider, Shayne Taylor, said in an LGBTQ Health Grand Rounds lecture in November 2018, just months after the clinic opened: $40,000 for double mastectomy and "several thousand" a year for "routine hormone treatments."
A female-to-male phalloplasty "could be up to $100,000," Taylor said, citing the clinic's surgeon Julian Winocour, who allegedly claimed that phalloplasties alone are fully funding some clinics. "And that is, like, a fraction of the surgeries that we're doing," which cost even more because "they require a lot of followups."
Following Walsh's reporting, at least three of Taylor's employee web pages "are now off-limits, and her 2018 lecture — posted to the Vanderbilt Program for LGBTQ Health's Facebook page — apparently came down within hours of Walsh posting the videos late afternoon Tuesday. Other links simply redirect," Just the News noted.
VUMC issued a statement on Sept. 21 contesting video footage in Walsh's broadcast but did not respond to media queries, Tennessee Star reported.
The statement claimed “social media posts and a video … misrepresent facts about the care the Medical Center provides to transgender patients.”
The medical center provides “family-centered care to all adolescents in compliance with state law and in line with professional practice standards and guidance established by medical specialty societies,” it said in reference to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, whose revision of standards has generated controversy, as the Economist reported:
Known as soc8, they originally included a list of minimum ages for treatments — 14 for cross-sex hormones, 15 for removal of breasts, 17 for testicles. Hours later, a “correction” eliminated the age limits. The head of the drafting committee, Eli Coleman, said the publisher went ahead “without approval” before final changes were made. This only intensified concerns about the document’s “gender-affirming” approach that supports self-diagnosis by adolescents and children.The statement insisted VUMC will not treat minors “related to transgender care” without parental consent “and never refuses parental involvement in the care of transgender youth who are under age 18.”
Employees whose “personal or religious beliefs do not support gender-affirming care” are allowed to opt out without discrimination, VUMC said.
"There is nothing healthy about mutilating the bodies of minor children. We need an investigation into VUMC putting profits ahead of children immediately," Sen. Marsha Blackburn tweeted.