Conservative anti-LGBTQ commentator Matt Walsh has targeted Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) this week in a crusade against gender-affirming healthcare.
In a Twitter thread on Tuesday, Walsh claimed that based on the results of an investigation by him and his team, the staff at VUMC’s Transgender Health Clinic “now castrate, sterilize, and mutilate minors as well as adults, while apparently taking steps to hide this activity from the public view.”
Walsh criticized the clinic’s Trans Buddy program – which offers peer support to patients – and repeatedly accused the medical staff of “drugging and sterilizing” kids for financial gain.
And his accusations are fueling anti-LGBTQ politicians. In response to Walsh, anti-LGBTQ Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) released a statement expressing that Walsh’s claims warrant an investigation.
“The ‘pediatric transgender clinic’ at Vanderbilt University Medical Center raises serious moral, ethical and legal concerns,” Lee said. “We should not allow permanent, life-altering decisions that hurt children or policies that suppress religious liberties, all for the purpose of financial gain. We have to protect Tennessee children, and this warrants a thorough investigation.”
The office of the state’s Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti also reportedly confirmed an investigation is taking place.
VUMC has since shut down the website for the Transgender Health Clinic and has released a statement defending the work they do for the trans community. The statement opens by saying the video footage and social media posts Walsh used to accuse the hospital of using trans people to make money “misrepresent facts.”
“VUMC began its Transgender Health Clinic because transgender individuals are a high-risk population for mental and physical health issues and have been consistently underserved by the U.S. health system,” the statement says.
“We have been and will continue to be committed to providing 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.”
The hospital emphasized that parental consent is required to treat all trans minors and that employees may decline to participate “in care they find morally objectionable.”
“The Trans Buddy program mentioned in the video has received national acclaim,” it continued. “Its purpose is to provide peer volunteers who support persons who are seeking highly personal care in an unfamiliar environment, and who may have been refused medical services in the past or avoided seeking them out of fear of being met with hostility.”
Anti-trans conservatives continue to put hospitals (and the children they treat) at risk by spreading lies about gender-affirming health care.
The Boston Children’s Hospital was recently forced to evacuate after an anonymous bomb threat was called in following a weeks-long harassment campaign from anti-LGBTQ groups.
After far-right Libs of TikTok founder Chaya Raichik falsely claimed the hospital was conducting gender-affirming surgery on children as young as two or three years old, physicians received so many death threats, harassing calls, and emails that the hospital had to hire extra security and give doctors new guidance on responding to threats.
Around the same time, Children’s National Hospital in Washington D.C. was targeted with bomb and death threats after the far-right anti-LGBTQ Twitter account Libs of TikTok falsely claimed that the hospital was performing hysterectomies (the removal of the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, and sometimes ovaries) on transgender children.
In reality, gender affirming surgery is almost never performed on minors.
Instead, puberty blockers are used in the treatment of transgender youth to hold off the permanent changes of puberty so that young people have more time to understand their gender identities better.
The reversible medications have been shown to significantly reduce lifelong suicide risk among transgender people. The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, and other major medical/mental health organizations all support gender-affirming care for pubescent youth when appropriate.