The transgender clinic at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville has suspended gender-affirming surgeries for patients under 18, a top executive at the center told a Tennessee lawmaker on Friday.
Tennessee Republican State Rep. Jason Zachary – who had called on VUMC to permanently end gender-affirming surgeries for minors – issued a letter on Twitter, he received from VUMC’s Director of Health System, Dr. C. Wright Pinson.
In the letter, Pinson informs lawmakers that the nonprofit hospital is “pausing” gender-affirming surgeries on patients under 18 while it considers “new recommendations.”
The move came under pressure from Republican leaders in Tennessee who sent a letter to the hospital last week ask that Vanderbilt Medical stop all gender transition surgeries on minors.
Gender affirmation care uses a multidisciplinary approach to help a person transition from their assigned sex – the one the person was assigned at birth – to the sex the person wants to be known by.
Pinson said the suspension is due to an ongoing review of new guidelines for the treatment of transgender patients released by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, and notes that the review “may take several months,” according to the letter. .
A spokesperson for VUMC confirmed to News84Media on Friday that the letter was legitimate but declined to elaborate on the clinic’s new policy.
Pinson’s letter says the Transgender Health Clinic, which was established in 2018, 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 underwent genital procedures,” the executive said.
Restrictions on gender affirmation 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 authorize gender affirmation care gender for their children may be investigated for “child abuse”.
Major medical associations – including the American Medical Association – agreed that gender-affirming care is clinically appropriate for children and adults gender dysphoriawhich, according to the American Psychiatric Association, is psychological distress that can occur when a person’s gender identity and sex assigned at birth do not match.
Last year, the Tennessee state legislature passed a law banning hormone therapy for children who have not reached puberty, and Republican lawmakers are discussing passing additional restrictions next year.
The ACLU of Tennessee released a statement last month condemning lawmakers’ plans for additional restrictions.
“Parents, patients and healthcare professionals, not politicians, should decide what medical care is in the best interests of a particular young person,” said ACLU of Tennessee Executive Director Kathy Sinback. , in a press release. 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 health care for Tennesse trans people. Efforts to restrict trans-Tennesseans’ access to health care are government wide in scope, and the ACLU-TN stands ready to fight intrusions into the private medical decision-making rights of parents and families when they seek gender-affirming care.
The letter from the VUMC executive acknowledged the possibility of new legal restrictions on gender-affirming care, saying the facility would comply with Tennessee law.
“We understand that this matter will likely be addressed by the General Assembly in its next legislative session,” Pinson said. “As always, we will ensure that VUMC’s programs comply with any new requirements that may be established under Tennessee law.”
The letter goes on to say that VUMC’s policies “permit employees to request accommodation to be excused from participating in surgeries or procedures they deem morally wrong.” Zachary, in his tweet, called the statement a promise “to honor religious objectors.”
State 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 said. tweeted.