‘No Harm Was Really Done’: Embattled Gender Clinic Told School To ‘Affirm’ Fifth Graders Who Suddenly Came Out As Trans

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Laurel Duggan Social Issues and Culture Reporter
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A Missouri school staff member contacted the Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital after a group of fifth-grade students suddenly identified as transgender, prompting employees at the center to encourage an “affirmative” approach and claimed there would be no harm done if the children later changed their minds, according to emails obtained by Parents Defending Education.

Following a student in a fifth-grade class within the Parkway, Missouri, school system “coming out” as transgender, several of her friends suddenly adopted transgender identities too, a staff member said in an email to the clinic asking for advice, according to documents published by Parents Defending Education. The clinic responded that it was best to “affirm” their “exploration,” even if the children were experiencing social contagion rather than genuine gender-related distress. (RELATED: Top Hospital Pushing To Expand Medicaid Coverage To Trans Cosmetic Surgeries It Performs)

“The short story is that one of the students in the 5th-grade class is coming out as Trans. She has told several of her friends and now several of them are also saying they are Trans,” the school staffer’s email read. “We do not want to discourage them if this is the case, but we’re also suspecting there could be other reasons they are doing this … Is this common? Are there resources for handling this type of situation?”

A clinic staffer responded by downplaying the social contagion issue and then sent advice she said was from Dr. Sarah Garwood, the clinic’s co-director.

“In general, kids explore parts of their identities in different ways: dress, hair, likes, interests, sexuality, and gender. For some, this is a temporary state, for some it is a longer path to something else. That’s okay,” Garwood said, according to the staffer’s email. “The best we can do is affirm, validate and allow for the exploration, if in a few weeks or months, a student wants to go by their legal name and pronouns that match their sex assigned at birth, no harm was really done in affirming them before.”

The clinic came under fire last week after a former employee’s whistleblower account went public. Jamie Reed, a former case manager, alleged that the clinic was fast-tracking children into biomedical interventions including puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones with minimal psychological screening.

One patient’s mother called her 11-year-old daughter a “tomboy” and initially said she didn’t express discomfort with her body or use a boy’s name, then reversed her story a month later after the clinic told her the child didn’t qualify for an evaluation; the clinic then allegedly took her on as a patient and put her on puberty blockers, according to Reed.

Reed’s allegations triggered a multi-agency investigation led by the Missouri’s attorney general, who has urged the clinic to stop taking new patients and stop prescribing puberty blockers and hormones pending the investigation.

Parkway Schools and the St. Louis Children’s Hospital did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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