Vanderbilt University Medical Center will temporarily suspend gender-affirming surgeries on patients under 18 after Tennessee Republicans and conservative media personalities recently called on the Vanderbilt Pediatric Transgender Clinic to cease operations.
In a letter sent to Rep. Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville), C. Wright Pinson, deputy chief executive and health system director for VUMC, says that of the patients receiving transgender care, an average of five a year have had surgery. Of these patients, all were at least 16 years old and none had undergone genital surgery.
VUMC notes that it follows the standards of care of the World Professional Association of Transgender Health, the Endocrine Society, and a 2021 Tennessee Law which prohibits the provision of hormone therapy to prepubescent minors. WPATH released a new version of its recommendations for healthcare professionals in early September, which VUMC says it will review, along with advice from local and national clinical experts. VUMC representatives anticipate that this process will take several months.
The most recent WPATH guidelines do not give a specific age recommendation for thoracic masculinization surgery, but rather base the recommendations on child development and medical team recommendations. The standards of care also do not recommend phalloplasty for young people under the age of 18, and although vaginoplasty surgeries are relatively rare in minors, the standards state that “there may be a benefit for some adolescents to have these procedures performed before the age of 18”.
VUMC’s letter is in response to a end of september letter written by Tennessee Republicans.
“While those 18+ are recognized as legal adults and free to make decisions in their best interests, it is a gross error in judgment that an institution as respected as Vanderbilt condones (and encourages) prejudicial and irreversible for minor children in the name of profit,” the Republicans’ letter reads in part, calling the clinic’s practices “nothing short of abuse.”
VUMC directly addressed the videos tweeted by Daily Wire commentator Matt Walsh, while emphasizing the right of VUMC employees to be excused from procedures they deem “morally wrong”.
“VUMC serves as an employment home for more than 40,000 people, and our employees express their views in numerous forums, including hundreds of open conferences at our campus facilities each year,” the letter states. “Comments from videos posted on social media that are obtained at these types of events should not be construed as statements of VUMC policy.”
VUMC made no comment and instead directed the Stage at a tweet from Zachary.