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Missouri agencies launch investigation into health center for transgender youth

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey announced Thursday he is investigating the Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital (Annelise Hanshaw/Missouri Independent).
Annelise Hanshaw
Missouri Independent
Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey speaks to The Federalist Society on the Missouri House of Representatives floor Friday.

Three Missouri agencies are investigating a multidisciplinary care center in St. Louis catering to transgender children and adolescents after a former employee detailed her experience as a case manager.

The whistleblower, Jamie Reed, provided a sworn affidavit about her time at the Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital earlier this week to Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey’s office.

U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley announced his office will also look into the allegations. He sent a letter to Washington University and St. Louis Children’s Hospital with instructions to preserve records.

Bailey made his two-week-old investigation public after Reed shared her story with The Free Press, a news website published by journalist Bari Weiss, whose other homepage headlines include “Embracing Islam to Own the Libs” and “The Chinese Spy Balloon Over My House.”

The story, which was published Thursday, alleges the Transgender Center overlooked mental health needs of patients and did not inform adolescents and their parents of potential side effects of treatment.

In the affidavit, Reed says the center “gave children puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones after just two one-hour visits.”

She says the center began medical transitions for “more than 600 children” between 2020 and 2022.

St. Louis Children’s Hospital could not be reached for comment. Washington University released a statement saying it was taking the allegations “very seriously and have already begun the process of looking into the situation to ascertain the facts.”

The attorney general’s office is leading an investigation into the allegations, with the assistance of the Missouri Department of Social Services and Division of Professional Registration.

“We take this evidence seriously and are thoroughly investigating to make sure children are not harmed by individuals who may be more concerned with a radical social agenda than the health of children,” Bailey said in a press release announcing the inquiry.

Reed’s affidavit includes concerns that the center charged public and private insurance plans for care, alleging that doctors entered incorrect treatment codes to get care covered by insurance.

“The Department of Social Services takes its role to investigate concerns of potential fraud, waste, or abuse in Missouri’s Medicaid program seriously,” Robert Knodell, acting director of Missouri’s Department of Social Services, said in a press release. “We will investigate concerns raised in order to ensure the health and safety of our Medicaid participants and to protect the integrity of the Medicaid program.”

The Division of Professional Registration plans to review licenses of practitioners they receive complaints about, its director, Sheila Solon said.

Among Reed’s allegations are that one doctor used a cancer drug off-label because it caused patients to develop breasts.

The Free Press article caught Hawley’s attention early Thursday, and he posted on Twitter that he had spoken with Washington University’s chancellor.

“If even a fraction of the whistleblower’s new allegations is corroborated, the Center should be immediately shut down,” he wrote in his letter to the chancellor and St. Louis Children’s Hospital’s president.

Robert Fischer, director of communications for PROMO, Missouri’s largest LGBTQ advocate, said his organization has heard positive patient testimony about the Transgender Center.

“Through PROMO’s work, we have heard dozens upon dozens of positive personal stories from transgender and gender non-conforming youth and families about the ethic of care they’ve received throughout their time at the Washington University Transgender Center,” Fischer said.

“We’ve also sat in rooms with over 30 parents who have shared stories about how their children thrived when they received interdisciplinary, holistic care from a team of providers at the [center],” he continued. “We have no insight into these allegations and accusations from one person.”

The Attorney General’s office has not filed any charges related to the investigation as of Thursday.

This story was originally published by the Missouri Independent, part of States Newsroom, a network of news outlets supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Missouri Independent maintains editorial independence.