By Andy RoseCNN
The transgender clinic at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville has halted gender-affirming surgeries for patients under the age of 18, a senior center executive told a Tennessee lawmaker on Friday.
Tennessee Republican State Representative Jason Zachary, who had called on the VUMC to permanently end gender-affirming surgeries for minors, posted a letter to Twitter that he received from VUMC Health System Director, Dr. C. Wright Pinson.
In the letter, Pinson tells the lawmaker that the nonprofit hospital is “halting” gender-affirming surgeries on patients under the age of 18 while it reviews “new recommendations.”
The move came amid pressure from Tennessee Republican leaders who sent a letter to the hospital last week. requesting that Vanderbilt Medical stop all gender transition surgeries on minors.
Gender affirming care uses a multidisciplinary approach to help a person transition from their assigned gender, the one assigned at birth, to the gender by which the person wants to be known.
Pinson said the suspension is due to an ongoing review of new guidance on the treatment of transgender patients issued by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, noting that the review “may take several months,” according to the letter.
A VUMC spokesperson confirmed to CNN on Friday that the letter is legitimate, but declined to elaborate on the clinic’s new policy.
Pinson’s letter said the Transgender Health Clinic, which was established in 2018, has provided surgical services to an average of five minors per year. In all of those cases, the patients were at least 16 years old, had parental consent, and “none have received genital procedures,” the executive said.
Restrictions on gender-affirming procedures for minors have become a contentious political issue in some states, including Texas, where there is an ongoing legal battle over whether parents who allow gender-affirming care for their children can be investigated for “child abuse”.
Major medical associations, including the American Medical Association, have agreed that gender-affirming care is clinically appropriate for children and adults with gender dysphoria, which, according to the American Psychiatric Association, is psychological distress that can result when the gender identity and a person’s sex are assigned at birth do not align.
Last year, the Tennessee state legislature passed a law banning hormone therapy for boys who haven’t reached puberty, and Republican lawmakers are discussing passing additional restrictions next year.
The ACLU of Tennessee issued a statement last month condemning lawmakers’ plans for additional restrictions.
“Parents, patients and medical professionals, not politicians, should decide what health care is best for any particular youth,” ACLU of Tennessee Executive Director Kathy Sinback said in a statement. “Medical and mental health treatment for transgender people is guided by evidence-based clinical guidelines, as well as existing state law that already regulates healthcare for Tennessee trans people. Efforts to restrict Trans-Tennesseans’ access to health care is a gross government overreach and the ACLU-TN stands ready to fight intrusions into the private medical decision-making rights of parents and families when seeking affirming care. of genre”.
The VUMC executive’s letter acknowledged the possibility of new legal restrictions on gender-affirming care and said the facility would comply with Tennessee law.
“We understand that the General Assembly is likely to address this issue in its next legislative session,” Pinson said. “As always, we will ensure that VUMC programs comply with any new requirements that may be established as part of Tennessee law.”
The letter goes on to say that VUMC’s policies “permit employees to request an accommodation to be excused from participating in surgeries or procedures they believe to be morally objectionable.” Zachary, in his tweet, characterized this statement as a promise to “honor religious objectors.”
House Republican Leader William Lamberth called VUMC’s decision a “victory.”
“This is a victory for the safety of our children, but we are committed to ensuring this never happens again in Tennessee,” Lamberth tweeted.
The CNN Wire
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