New email correspondence reveals that a St. Louis gender clinic, currently under investigation by the Missouri attorney general after a bombshell whistleblower report alleged malpractice, advised an elementary school teacher to “affirm” a group of fifth-grade girls who all claimed to be transgender.
A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by Parents Defending Education, a nonprofit parent advocacy group, discovered emails from a clinic staff member of the Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital that instructed a fifth-grader teacher not to question the validity of a group of 10 and 11-year-old friends’ new transgender identities.
“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,” a teacher explained to the St. Louis gender clinic staff, whose names are redacted in the email correspondence, in October 2021.
🚨BREAKING: Doctors from the infamous St Louis transgender clinic told a teacher to ‘affirm’ an entire group of 5th graders coming out as transgender simultaneously – despite the teacher’s serious fears they were being socially influenced by their friends.https://t.co/ECxOLlcDbn pic.twitter.com/QTOqgblYK7
— Nicki Neily (@nickineily) February 16, 2023
The teacher expressed concern about the situation and asked if there were any resources for handling it. The clinic staff member said the studies positing that “social contagion” may be responsible for clusters of adolescents adopting transgender identities do not use “affirming” language and are, in his “personal and professional opinion, invalid.”
The staff member then suggested that all the girls were genuinely transgender, and it simply took a close friend coming out for them to realize they were too. He said he would try to find some resources for the teacher but would exclude anything that “may invalidate transgender folks.”
In a subsequent email, the staff member quoted the clinic’s Adolescent Medicine specialist, Dr. Sarah Garwood, who said, “The best we can do is affirm, validate and allow for exploration,” adding that “no harm” would be done in affirming a child’s transgender identity.
While social transition, which may consist of adopting a new name and opposite-sex pronouns, is often portrayed as a benign way to allow children to express their “true selves,” studies show there are good reasons to doubt this narrative. All available research suggests that this seemingly innocuous act of support is an active psychosocial intervention that can make matters worse.
The best available data indicate that roughly 60–90% of children who identify as transgender, but do not socially or medically transition, will no longer identify as transgender in adulthood.
After conducting a systematic review of evidence, England’s National Health Service has proposed new guidelines for treating trans-identifying youth and warns that adolescents identifying as transgender may be experiencing a “transient phase” and that doctors should not encourage them to change their names and pronouns. “Social transition,” the NHS said, is not a “neutral act” and could have “significant effects” in terms of “psychological functioning.”
The director of Parents Defending Education, Erica Sanzi, told The Daily Wire that the case of the fifth-grade girls is not an isolated incident, and it has brought into sharp focus the debate around the diagnosis and treatment of gender dysphoria in minors.
“This isn’t the first time we’ve seen these kinds of communications between a gender clinic at a children’s hospital and a local school district,” said Sanzi. “We’ve seen similar correspondence in San Francisco, Chicago, and Philadelphia. St. Louis is the tip of the iceberg.”
The St. Louis gender clinic faces intense scrutiny following claims made by former case manager Jamie Reed. Her allegations describing the clinic’s practices as “medically and morally appalling” resulting in “permanent harm” done to vulnerable children have sparked two separate investigations, one by the Missouri Attorney General’s office and another by the office of Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO).
The controversy has raised serious questions about the ethics and practices of gender clinics, particularly when it comes to working with children. Critics argue that too much emphasis is being placed on affirmation and not enough on exploring the underlying causes of gender dysphoria, which may include trauma, mental health conditions, or social pressures.
These revelations have caused outrage among parents, educators, and healthcare professionals. Nicki Neily, president and founder of Parents Defending Education, called the doctors’ lack of curiosity about the underlying causes of the trend among the 10-year-old children “immoral at best and an abdication of professional responsibility at worst.”
“These children and their families have been let down, both by the school and the hospital — so it’s little wonder that trust in these institutions has declined precipitously over the past few years,” Neily added.