Thirteen Republican state attorneys general warned the federal Justice Department against prosecuting critics of gender-transition procedures for minors after leading medical associations urged U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to target perpetrators of what they said was “disinformation.”
“We respectfully demand that you stand down and allow the national conversation to continue. Now is a time for more speech, not less,” said the Wednesday letter led by Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti.
Their missive came in reaction to an Oct. 3 plea from the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Children’s Hospital Association for the Biden administration to hold accountable those responsible for “coordinating, provoking and carrying out bomb threats and threats of personal violence” against doctors and hospitals.
“From Boston to Akron to Nashville to Seattle, children’s hospitals, academic health systems and physicians are being targeted and threatened for providing evidence-based health care,” said the associations in their letter. “These attacks have not only made it difficult and dangerous for institutions and practices to provide this care, they have also disrupted many other services to families seeking care.”
The professional medical groups blamed “an intentional campaign of disinformation, where a few high-profile users on social media share false and misleading information,” but the GOP attorneys general cautioned Mr. Garland against what they said was the policing of speech.
“Silencing critics of current gender dysphoria treatment practices for minors will not make children any safer or healthier,” said the prosecutors. “Instead, it will lead to bad decision-making and erode public confidence in both the federal government and the medical community.”
The exchange comes with the $2 billion U.S. sex-reassignment industry under increasing scrutiny as the number of minors diagnosed with gender dysphoria soars. New diagnoses for those ages 6-17 nearly tripled from 15,172 in 2017 to 42,167 in 2021, according to a Komodo Health analysis for the Reuters news service.
Treatments for gender dysphoria include puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and the surgical removal of breasts — known as “top surgery” — for female-born patients who identify as male.
“No doubt the medical associations object to the characterization of double mastectomies for minors as ‘mutilation’ or ‘cutting healthy breasts off teen girls,’ or of hormonal treatments as ‘chemical castration,’” said the letter to Mr. Garland. “These descriptors may inflame and provoke. They are also entirely protected by the First Amendment.”
The medical associations represent more than 270,000 physicians and 220 hospitals, but there are signs of uneasiness with the current state of medical practice.
Project Veritas released a video clip Monday showing a Canadian physician expressing doubts about treating teenagers, saying that they don’t understand the implications of gender-transition drugs on their fertility and questioning their ability to give informed consent.
“Last week at the Pediatric Endocrinology Society meeting — some of the Dutch researchers gave some data about young adults who have transitioned and have reproductive regret. Like, regret, and it’s there, and I don’t think any of that surprises us,” said Dr. Daniel Metzger at what was identified as a video conference of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center announced last week that it was “pausing gender affirmation surgeries on patients under age 18” during a review of its procedures, after more than 60 Republican lawmakers called for the center’s transgender clinic to halt surgeries on minors.
Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee called last month for an investigation after a Vanderbilt physician was shown in a viral 2018 video posted by Daily Wire podcaster Matt Walsh promoting transgender surgeries and saying that they “make a lot of money.”
Stanley Goldfarb, chair of Do No Harm, applauded the GOP attorneys general for pushing to “let the conversations continue nationwide.”
“Medical associations should follow the science, not try to stifle public debate — especially when they’re pushing a divisive ideology that could literally ruin children’s lives,” he said in a statement.