WU denies AG’s request to halt care at pediatric Transgender Center

Former patient refutes allegations of malpractice

and | Managing Scene Editor, Senior News Editor
A close-up on the front of WashU's medical school.

Alan Zhou | Student Life

Washington University Chancellor Andrew Martin and Richard J. Liekweg, President and CEO of BJC Healthcare, wrote a joint statement to Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey that they will not enforce a moratorium on care at the Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital (WUTC), Feb. 14. 

Bailey called on Martin and Trish Lollo, the President of the St. Louis Children’s Hospital, to “impose an immediate moratorium on the Center prescribing puberty-blocking drugs and cross-sex hormones to new patients” on Feb. 10. His note to Martin and Lollo followed allegations published by Jamie Reed, a former case manager at the Center who alleged physicians have engaged in malpractice.

Reed’s allegations sparked nationwide controversy. Erin Reed, a queer legislative researcher and transgender rights activist, debunked many of Jaime Reed’s claims in an extensive response published on Substack.

“We know that patients who are experiencing gender dysphoria and related issues are often at significant risk,” Martin and Liekweg wrote. “The Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital is the only place in the entire state of Missouri where transgender youth can access the care they need to ensure their mental and physical well-being.”

Martin and Liekweg wrote in their joint statement that they have “begun the process of reviewing practices and protocols at WUTC to ensure that we are upholding the highest standards of care in service to our patients and their families.” 

The statement continued to express the importance of providing “lifesaving, evidence-based care that aligns with the standards set by the American Academy of Pediatrics.”

“We cannot institute a moratorium that would deny critical, standards-based care to current and new patients,” Martin and Liekweg wrote, referencing the risk of mental and physical health issues faced by transgender youth.

WashU freshman Chris Harvey, a former patient of the pediatric Center, is concerned about its future given the nascent investigations. 

Harvey said that he was certain that the clinic was following protocol when providing care.  

“I just worry that somehow they’ll be shut down,” Harvey said. “And I just worry that all the trans children and young adults who go there won’t be able to receive treatment.” 

Harvey received gender-affirming care at the Center after realizing he was transgender when he was 11. 

He was scrolling through his older sister’s Tumblr account and came across the page of someone who identified as transgender. “I didn’t know what that meant yet, but then the more I Googled it and looked into what it meant, I was like, ‘Oh, that’s me,’” he said. 

Harvey came out to his parents when he was 14, and soon after, physicians evaluated  him for gender dysphoria at St. Louis Children’s Specialty Centers — which includes the pediatric Transgender Center. He said this evaluation was the first step of many to be prescribed gender-affirming hormones. 

“There are [so] many hoops to jump through,” Harvey said. “You have to see a therapist for at least six months before starting testosterone — consistently, like once a week or more.” 

Harvey described all the physicians at the Center as patient and empathetic. “Before I had my first appointment, they called ahead and [asked], ‘What are your preferred name and pronouns?’” Harvey said. 

Harvey said his experience of physicians’ thorough pre-treatment evaluations refutes Reed’s allegations of the Center’s physicians treating patients with hormone therapies after minimal evaluation.

In addition to having appointments at the Center, Harvey’s pediatrician had to write a letter confirming that his gender dysphoria has been present throughout his life. A little over a year after his initial appointment, Harvey underwent another gender dysphoria evaluation and additional mental health screenings at the Center. 

Eventually, both of his parents signed a consent form, and his doctor granted him a prescription for testosterone. 

Harvey said that the prescription came as a relief. 

“It was just like, ‘Wow, my life is starting now.’ Before, it felt like my life was on hold waiting for something to happen, waiting to be able to proceed with life like everybody else.” 

Harvey’s dad sent him Jamie Reed’s article after it was published. 

“It made me angry,” Harvey said. “I was able to point out, ‘Oh, that’s clearly a lie’ because I’ve been a patient at the clinic and I know how it works.” 

“She claimed that the patients who had started either testosterone [or] estrogen treatment had only seen a therapist once or twice before getting treatment,” he said.
“That’s not possible at all because a therapist has to see a patient for six months consistently, before they can even start writing the letter [of recommendation].” 

Student Life reached out to Julie Flory, Vice Chancellor of Marketing and Communications, on Feb. 20 to see if there was any update on the investigation. “We don’t have anything new at this time beyond the letter to the [Attorney General Bailey],” Flory wrote.

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