Maine Republicans are expressing concern about controversial sex-change procedures for minors following a bombshell testimony from gender clinic whistleblower Jamie Reed.
In a report published by The Free Press, Reed described shocking levels of negligence and harmful behavior by doctors at The Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, the gender clinic where she used to work.
Reed’s testimony, which was supported with documents and records obtained during her employment, comes as states across the country are seeking to prohibit sex-change treatments and sex-change surgeries for minors. Her report has already triggered a criminal investigation in Missouri.
Reed, a 42-year-old St. Louis native and self-described far-left queer woman, is married to a transgender man and generally supports the LGBT community; however, her time at the gender clinic led her to believe that doctors were actually harming, not helping, the kids.
Sometimes described as “gender affirming” procedures, sex-change treatments have become increasingly popular in recent years. The procedures include puberty blocking drugs, cross-sex hormone supplements, and surgeries that can remove sex organs or reconstruct artificial ones. Whether minors can provide informed consent for the procedures, which are often irreversible, has become a controversial topic over the past year.
Through her work at the clinic, Reed had a front row seat to the kinds of procedures several states are now seeking prohibit for minors, and what she saw was disturbing for Missouri officials as well as Maine Republicans.
The procedures Reed describes are available currently to minors in Maine and are covered in some cases by MaineCare.
Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey has said his office is investigating the clinic and has already obtained a sworn affidavit from Reed along with supporting documents.
“We have received disturbing allegations that individuals at the Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital have been harming hundreds of children each year, including by using experimental drugs on them,” said Bailey.
“We take this evidence seriously and are thoroughly investigating to make sure children are not harmed by individuals who may be more concerned with a radical social agenda than the health of children,” he said.
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, through a spokesman, called Reed’s allegations disturbing and said parents must remain involved in all medical decisions related to their children.
“The allegations made by the former employee of a clinic in Missouri are disturbing,” said Christopher Knight, Deputy Communications Director for Sen. Susan Collins.
“Senator Collins believes that parents should not be removed from the equation, especially when the medical decisions involving their children have permanent, life-altering effects,” said Knight.
Reed’s report included the allegation that a gender clinic doctor continued to provide experimental puberty-blocking drugs to a minor patient even after the child’s parents had withdrawn their consent.
“These allegations, if true, should be prosecuted,” said Senate Republican Leader Trey Stewart (R-Aroostook). “There’s no reason for doctors to be circumnavigating parents of minor children in cases like this.”
“Parents should be able to talk through these situations with their children, no worry about whether their child’s doctor is permanently changing their lives behind their backs,” said Stewart.
House Republican Leader Billy Bob Faulkingham (R-Winter Harbor) said he would support a ban on these procedures in Maine.
“No doctor should be giving life changing surgery or drugs to minors for the purpose of gender transitioning,” said Faulkingham.
“The potential long term health risks are too dangerous to ignore,” he said.
Every Democratic official contacted for this story either declined to comment or did not respond to the inquiry.
In her testimony, Reed said youth who came into the clinic were rarely denied life-altering hormone treatments, even if they presented with several other mental health issues. She said the clinic lacked formal protocols to diagnose and manage the treatments. And she said parents were often not informed about the permanent consequences of a child taking puberty blockers, like Bicalutamide, a drug used to treat prostate cancer.
Reed also witnessed an explosion in the number of children coming to the clinic seeking to alter their genders with pharmaceutical drugs and surgeries over the past three years.
“Until 2015 or so, a very small number of these boys comprised the population of pediatric gender dysphoria cases,” wrote Reed. “Then, across the Western world, there began to be a dramatic increase in a new population: Teenage girls, many with no previous history of gender distress, suddenly declared they were transgender and demanded immediate treatment with testosterone.”
According to Reed’s story, she encountered a number of young people who underwent irreversible procedures and later regretted doing so. One young black girl with a history of drug addiction underwent a double mastectomy to remove her breasts, but three months later she was in the clinic asking for the procedure to be reversed.
Reed said doctors at the clinic were often indifferent to cases where individuals wished to “detransition,” and whenever she expressed concerns over the gender clinics procedures, she was rebuffed by doctors and administrators.
Privately, Reed said, the clinics doctors would recognize that many young people were seeking to transition genders as the result of social contagion, not any underlying gender dysphoria; however, that never prevented them from administering sex-change medications.
Reed’s whistleblower report also claims doctors continued to provide gender transition drugs to minors even after parents revoked their consent, that the clinic failed to provide ongoing mental health services for patients, and that patients often developed suicidal feelings for the first time after receiving cross-sex hormones.
“During my time at the Center, I personally witnessed Center healthcare providers lie to the public and to parents of patients about the treatment, or lack of treatment, and the effects of treatment provided to children at the Center,” wrote Reed.
“Doctors at the Center also have publicly claimed that they do not do any gender transition surgeries on minors. … This was a lie. The Center regularly refers minors for gender transition surgery. The Center routinely gives out the names and contact information of surgeons to those under the age of 18. At least one gender transition surgery was performed by Dr. Allison Snyder-Warwick at St. Louis Children’s Hospital in the last few years,” she wrote.
Reed’s story provided a behind the scenes look at what’s actually happening in one gender clinic, but there are hundreds of similar clinics across the country, including Maine and New England.
The Boston Children’s Hospital posted videos last year explaining how they perform these procedures on minors, including double mastectomies and hysterectomies, but they later changed the language on their website to say they only offered those services to adults.
The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland operates its own gender clinic.
“We are dedicated to supporting the health and wellbeing of transgender, gender diverse, and questioning youth in Northern New England,” the Barbara Bush’s Gender Clinic says in a flier. “We offer treatment to children and their families from childhood through adolescence and young adulthood.”
According to the flier, the Gender Clinic offers puberty blockers, cross-sex hormone therapy, and surgical consultations to their minor patients.
According to NEGenderCare.org, a volunteer consortium that guides minors to medical providers willing to prescribe puberty blockers, the Gender Clinic in Portland will administer Histrelin to minors, a prostate drug implant placed subcutaneously that releases hormones over time.
Although Histrelin was developed as a prostate drug, it’s currently being marketed to children as a puberty blocker under the name Supprelin LA.
“Some people taking GnRH agonists like SUPPRELIN® LA have had new or worsening mental (psychiatric) problems including depression,” the website for Supprelin states. “Some people taking GnRH agonists like SUPPRELIN® LA have had seizures.”
The drug is produced by Endo International, an American company domiciled for tax-purposes in Ireland. In 2018, the company settled over 1,200 lawsuits related to undisclosed side effects from its testosterone replacement therapies. Endo has also been named in lawsuits from Ohio, Missouri, New York, and Mississippi over its role in promoting opioid drugs.
The Gender Clinic at Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital does not advertise sex-change surgeries for minors among its services, but it does offer surgical consults for minors.
Records concerning puberty blockers given to minors and sex-change surgeries performed on minors in Maine are not available to the public when paid for by private insurance.
However, the Maine Wire obtained financial records related to MaineCare payments made by the Department of Health and Human Services last year for “gender affirming” surgeries.
According to DHHS, the number of “gender affirming” surgical procedures paid for by MaineCare almost doubled each year following a 2019 policy change allowing coverage for the procedures, from 24 surgeries in 2019 to 44 in 2020 and then to 82 in 2021. Those records only include surgeries and do not include adults or minors who received puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones via MaineCare.
Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey, who has previously supported taxpayer funded sex-change procedures for West Virginians, either had not read Reed’s report or did not find it credible.
Asked whether he had any concerns about sex-change procedures on Maine minors following Reed’s whistleblower report, a spokesperson for Frey replied: “No comment.”
Maine Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook), House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross (D-Portland), and Sen. Joe Baldacci (D-Penobscot), the Democrat lead on the Health and Human Services Committee, all declined to say whether they would support a ban on the kinds of procedures Reed described in her report.
U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses and votes almost exclusively with Democrats, did not respond to an email seeking comment. Reps. Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden also declined to comment.
The Idaho House passed a bill last week banning puberty blockers and sex change surgeries for minors. Tennessee is close to passing similar legislation. The South Dakota governor has already signed legislation affecting a ban. Florida did so last year, and Utah passed its ban in early February.
Whether minors can meaningfully consent to life-altering procedures — and whether these procedures should even be allowed for minors — are two issues that have emerged as fault lines in American politics.
With most all elected Democrats supporting puberty blockers and sex-change surgeries for minors, Maine is unlikely to pass its own ban anytime soon.
But similar debates are playing out at the local level as school boards endeavor to determine what role, if any, controversial left-wing theories about gender ought to play in schools.