Tennessee attorney general vows to investigate claims against VUMC transgender health clinic

Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti has pledged to investigate allegations of illegal conduct at the Clinic for Transgender Health at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

The allegations surfaced after Matt Walsh, a columnist with the Daily Wire, a conservative news website and news company, posted a series of tweets Sept. 20 about his probe into the transgender clinic.

"My team and I have been investigating the transgender clinic at Vanderbilt here in Nashville," Mr. Walsh tweeted. "Vanderbilt drugs, chemically castrates and performs double mastectomies on minors."

His social media posts also include a video of Shayne Sebold Taylor, MD, a physician at the VUMC Clinic for Transgender Health, in 2018 saying that the surgeries "make a lot of money" and that female-to-male bottom surgeries "are huge money makers." Additionally, he posted a video in which another physician, Ellen Clayton, MD, tells employees that not participating in transition surgeries because of religious beliefs "is not without consequences." And there is a video about the Trans Buddy program that provides advocates for transgender patients.

In a Sept. 21 statement, Vanderbilt University Medical Center said that the social media posts "misrepresent facts about the care the medical center provides to transgender patients."

"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 statement reads.

The hospital also said it requires parental consent to treat a minor patient who is to be seen for transgender care-related issues, and never refuses parental involvement in the care of transgender patients who are younger than 18.

"Our policies allow employees to decline to participate in care they find morally objectionable, and do not permit discrimination against employees who choose to do so," the hospital added. "This includes employees whose personal or religious beliefs do not support gender-affirming care for transgender persons."

Regarding the Trans Buddy program, Vanderbilt University Medical Center said the video about the program "has received national acclaim. 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."

Mr. Skrmetti's office responded to the allegations as well.

A statement from his office, which was shared with Becker's, says, "We are aware of allegations of illegal conduct at the Clinic for Transgender Health at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. [Attorney] General Skrmetti will use the full scope of his authority to ensure compliance with Tennessee law."

The allegations regarding Vanderbilt University Medical Center come as children's hospitals across the U.S. have faced threats and harassment in recent weeks over medical care they provide to transgender children. Earlier in September, a Westfield, Mass., woman was charged in connection with a fake bomb threat made against Boston Children's Hospital in late August.

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