NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — In a letter to a Tennessee state lawmaker, Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) announced that it is pausing gender affirming surgeries for minors.
According to VUMC’s letter to Rep. Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville), the medical center will stop performing those surgeries while it reviews new guidance on transgender health care by the World Professional Association of Transgender Health.
VUMC, one of the top hospitals in the country, came under fire by Republican lawmakers after conservative political commentator Matt Walsh posted a series of tweets last month claiming that “Vanderbilt drugs, chemically castrates and performs double mastectomies on minors.”
In its letter to Rep. Zachary, VUMC said that since its Transgender Health Clinic began in 2018, it has performed an average of five gender affirming surgeries on minors each year, all of which were performed on patients at least 16 years old. None of those patients received “genital procedures” and parental consent was obtained in each case, VUMC said.
Walsh also posted a video of a Vanderbilt doctor in 2018 reporting that gender transition treatment could work as a profit center.
“None of these surgeries have been paid for by state or federal funds; the revenues from this limited number of surgeries represent an immaterial percentage of VUMC’s net operating revenue,” Vanderbilt said in the letter.
Vanderbilt also acknowledged that the General Assembly may take up the issue when it reconvenes in January.
“In addition, we understand this issue is likely to be taken up by the General Assembly in its next legislative session,” VUMC said. “As always, we will assure that VUMC’s programs comply with any new requirements which may be established as part of Tennessee law.”
Sen. Rusty Crowe (R–Johnson City), who chairs the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, told News Channel 11 on Friday that lawmakers “will still pursue banning these procedures legislatively, however, as we need to make sure that no medical facility in Tennessee will be performing these gender affirming procedures on minors.”
Gov. Bill Lee shared a similar sentiment in a Friday night tweet.
“We should not allow permanent, life altering decisions that hurt children. With the partnership of the General Assembly, this practice should end in Tennessee,” Lee said.
Vanderbilt reiterated in its letter that it follows “the most widely recognized national and international standards of care” and does so “in accordance with state and federal laws.”
VUMC said its clinical review of the new guidelines on transgender care could take months.