A biological woman who formerly identified as a transgender man says that a Chicago area hospital opted to prioritize gender ideology over biological realities when she fled to that hospital for help.
De-transitioner Helena Kerschner, 23, shared with The Daily Wire that she checked herself into AMITA Health Saint Joseph Hospital Chicago in the summer of 2017. Since she identified as a transgender man at the time, she believes she used the name Vincent Jaszczak (her mother’s maiden name).
The reason for her hospital visit? For the past 12 months she had been pumping herself full of very high doses of testosterone in an attempt to transition to become a biological man, she said.
And she says it was wreaking havoc on her emotions.
“When I would get angry I would have the urge to externalize it, but I didn’t want to hurt anyone,” she explained. “It re-routed all my emotions to anger…instead of feeling sad, afraid of something, I would instantly go from zero to rage.”
She also said she couldn’t cry, a common side effect for women on testosterone, and something she found tremendously frustrating. “I would get to the point of being upset that, before testosterone, I would have been sobbing. It would all just kind of well up inside me, but no tears would come.”
The Chicago Hospital
Overcome with her emotional reaction to the testosterone, Kerschner said she ultimately checked herself into AMITA Health Saint Joseph Hospital Chicago, a Catholic hospital that supposedly abides by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Healthcare Services.
Though the USCCB directives do not specifically reference transgender treatments or counseling, the Catholic Church teaches that there are only two genders: male and female. Neither AMITA Health Saint Joseph Hospital Chicago nor the USCCB responded to requests for comment from The Daily Wire.
According to Kerschner, the psychiatrists at AMITA Health Saint Joseph Hospital Chicago didn’t seem to care about the underlying cause of her distress (the testosterone).
In fact, she said, they began medically treating her as though she were a biological man in emotional distress.
Kerschner does not remember which psychiatrists specifically treated her, but she said that the decision to favor her stated gender over her actual biology is not surprising in light of the “very complex psychological” debate on gender identity that has permeated the medical world.
“It’s an incredibly politically charged issue and you’re at risk of being accused of discrimination or harassment or conversion therapy,” she said. “I think it should be different. Gender identity stuff might be incredibly complex, but an 18-year-old girl on 100 milligrams of testosterone having meltdowns, that’s not very complex.”
“I think that it’s just too dangerous for these providers who are really only going to be talking to these people for a week or so until they leave the hospital and they never see them again or don’t see them until they come back to the hospital,” she continued. “It’s just not worth the risk for these doctors and nurses to even bring it up. So yeah, I think it’s more of an issue with psychiatry as a field and the way that these hospitals work.”
Seemingly treating her as though she were a biological man, doctors reportedly diagnosed Kerschner with borderline personality disorder, prescribed her two antidepressants, Wellbutrin and Lexapro, the anti-anxiety medication Klonopin, and the antipsychotic medication Abilify.
AMITA Health Saint Joseph Hospital Chicago has not responded to The Daily Wire’s requests for comment on this point or others.
Though Kerschner says she listed on her intake form that she had been taking 100 milligrams of testosterone per week, she said there was no discussion of how, specifically, the testosterone was affecting her.
And, though her medical records said that her sex was female, according to Kerschner, the hospital staff validated her gender identity and overlooked her biological sex, medically and socially, treating her as though she were, in fact, a biological man.
The Daily Wire has not obtained a copy of those medical records, and the hospital did not respond to requests for comment on this point.
Kerschner said that she stayed at St. Joseph’s Hospital for six or seven days on her first visit. Then she went home.
But a psychiatrist at her out-patient program told her she needed to go back to the hospital, Kerschner said. The young woman explained that she had been telling her psychiatrist about her rage attacks (though she said she didn’t know it was rage at the time and thought these were psychotic episodes) and how she felt suicidal and hopeless.
After she left the hospital this time, she said, she slowly weaned herself off the testosterone.
Getting The Hormones
Kerschner said she obtained the testosterone from a Chicago Planned Parenthood clinic where she first went to begin hormonal treatment on August 15, 2016.
She was 18 years old at the time, she said, describing in detail how she had struggled with depression, self consciousness, loneliness, insecurity, and body image throughout her teenage years.
“Pretty standard stuff, I think, for a teenager,” she said.
Then she began spending a lot of time on the internet, where she discovered Tumblr and a whole world of gender theory and social justice advocacy. And she began to believe that she was a trans boy.
“I decided that what I needed to do for myself was to go on testosterone and start transitioning,” Kerschner explained. “And I had kind of this fantasy in my head that I was going to transform into this cute boy and be really popular. Very not realistic.”
Her parents were (“thankfully”) not supportive of her transition, Kerschner noted. So she made herself an appointment at a Planned Parenthood clinic, Planned Parenthood of Near North: Elizabeth Cohn Morris Health Center, she said, and drove herself from Cincinnati all the way to Chicago.
Neither Planned Parenthood nor Planned Parenthood of Illinois would specifically comment on Kerschner and her experience for this story.
In a statement, Planned Parenthood of Illinois assured The Daily Wire that it “provides high-quality health care and adheres to all local, state and federal regulations for our sexual and reproductive health services, including gender-affirming care.”
Screenshots of her social work intake form show that Kerschner wrote that her pronouns were male and that her “sex assigned at birth” was female.
That intake form paints a stark picture of an isolated young girl making a life altering decision: single, frustrated with her parents, she had told only one friend about starting hormone treatment, the form says, though she had come “out to everyone’” as transgender and “connected to online communities for support.”
The form states that a general screening found her to be capable of making informed consent for the treatment — at least according to the standards set by the clinic at the time. Her last suicidal thought had been two weeks prior, the form says, and her depression was “significantly improving” since starting to transition.
Planned Parenthood did not comment on the social intake form or address its standards on suicidal thoughts to The Daily Wire.
Kerschner was “well versed and knowledgeable about hormone therapy,” according to the form, had “thought about using hormones for some time, especially over the last 2 years,” and stated that “turning 18 is” why she was able to begin the process.
This was my full informed consent waiver. These were the only side effects or risks discussed with me. Vaginal atrophy, which I suffered and is now (from what I can tell) thankfully resolved but was painful and frightening at the time, was not even disclosed to me. pic.twitter.com/dn3iYrQUGF
— helena (@lacroicsz) July 16, 2019
That very same day, Planned Parenthood gave her a prescription for testosterone, Kerschner said. She then went to CVS and picked it up.
Kerschner told The Daily Wire that it took about 20 minutes for her to talk to the social worker.
The clinic gave her a prescription for the testosterone, she said, and she took a couple minutes to run to CVS to pick up the prescription, then went back to the clinic where she said they guided her through her injection.
“The whole thing from the time I arrived at the clinic to the time I left to begin my drive back to Cincinnati took about an hour,” she said.
“They gave me a three month supply when I filled my first prescription,” Kerschner explained.
When she refilled her prescription, she had switched to a new clinic — Chicago Women’s Health Center, which she described as “another place like Planned Parenthood where they do a bunch of abortions and then give girls testosterone.”
Most of the nurses there were transgender themselves, Kerschner said, noting that she had switched to the clinic because it seemed even more “woke,” and she had made a friend who was also “trans identified” who was using this clinic.
Chicago Women’s Health Center did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Daily Wire. The center’s website says it offers hormones to individuals aged 18 or over.
‘I Felt Alone’
According to her Planned Parenthood social work intake form, which she has since posted on social media, Kerschner told staff that she was “100% confident” that in the future she would get top surgery (have her breasts removed).
Asked how she would cope with stressors from the changes she would experience on hormones, the form says that Kerschner stated she thought she would be “much happier.”
“Patient states that he has struggled with depression currently and in the past,” the form says, referring to Kerschner with male pronouns. “Patient states that this summer was tough for him with depression and suicidal thoughts. Patient states that since he has been able to make this appointment, his depression has already started to improve. Patient expects that his whole life will be quite different and he will be very happy when he starts to change.”
Kerschner told The Daily Wire that the hormone treatment was a desperate bid for happiness, an attempt to fit into a world of beautiful, popular people with perfect lives splayed all over the internet on social media. But it only resulted in more pain.
“Any young person, teenager, or young adult who maybe doesn’t fit in or just feels insecure is really vulnerable to getting caught up in this gender ideology,” Kerschner said. “Pretty much any safeguard or selection process or screening process or anything like that, it’s all kind of been taken down in the last couple of years.”
“There’s really nothing protecting a young person who decides they’re trans and then two weeks later wants to go on hormones or wants to get a surgery or something like that,” she said. “I think most people who aren’t familiar with this topic really don’t understand how urgent it’s becoming.”
It was extremely difficult to make the decision to stop taking testosterone, Kerschner shared.
“My mindset was, I’m so desperate, I’ve invested so much time and thought into this identity,” she said, noting that it would be “really embarrassing to back out of it.” So she kept telling herself, “No, you can’t doubt this, you gotta keep going.”
She wasn’t the only one who felt that pushing forward with her transition was the right thing to do, she said — on Reddit forums, all of the responses that she read urged her to “keep going.”
She began to develop an “intense aversion” to the massive needle that she stabbed into her leg to inject herself with testosterone. After her second visit to the hospital, she said, she slowly stopped taking testosterone until she had quit completely.
Kerschner said that she doesn’t remember much about coming off the testosterone, describing that next period as a “very low point” in her life.
She was on a ton of medication, she said, her hormones were “screwed up,” she was drinking heavily, smoking copious amounts of weed, and does not remember specific withdrawal feelings beyond bewilderment and regret.
Then she began sharing her experience on social media, making videos with other detransitioners. Fox News host Tucker Carlson recently featured her on Tucker Carlson Tonight, where she warned the pundit: “I’m just really concerned for younger girls and boys being led down this path, and being hurt by it.”
“It’s completely normal for not only young girls, but often young boys to feel uncomfortable with themselves, uncomfortable with their body,” she told Carlson. “But we have this ideology that is especially prevalent online that says that if you have those feelings, that means you’re trans. I mean, there are literally people who say, if you don’t even like your voice on a recording, that’s a sign of gender dysphoria, and you need to go see a medical professional because you’re trans.”
She has a boyfriend now, she told The Daily Wire. She’s on speaking terms with her family, going to school, and is one of the top voices in the transgender debate.
“My story is not a fluke, and I am not uniquely troubled or irresponsible,” she wrote in a Substack post explaining her story. “What I am though, is fortunate, because there are others for whom the harm has been exponentially worse.”
“Though there is much strength to be found in overcoming, the fact is that today, any young person who remotely struggles with self-esteem, making friends, fitting in to common gender roles, or body image is now vulnerable to being subjected to what amount to medical experiments that may permanently destroy the prior functioning of their bodies before they have had the chance to build identity and strength through the normal means of overcoming life’s challenges,” she continued.
“I have seen firsthand that for some people, the medical and psychological damage is far beyond what could be considered a healthy amount of adversity.”