A new public records request reveals how millions of taxpayer dollars have funded controversial “gender-affirming” medical treatments for trans-identifying minors in Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania Family Institute, a non-profit representing family values, filed a right-to-know request with the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services to find out exactly how much taxpayer money has been spent on medically transitioning children and adolescents in the state. The request revealed that since 2015 more than $16.7 million in tax dollars have been spent on puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, and gender-related surgeries for minors.
“When Gov. [Tom] Wolf took office, he unilaterally changed state policy to cover things like double mastectomies to remove healthy breasts from minor girls and irreversible experimental hormones for children,” said Emily Kreps with PA Family Institute. “The same drugs used to chemically castrate convicted sex offenders are being funded by tax dollars for minors. This type of ‘care’ is happening right now at major institutions like CHOP, Penn State Health and UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh—especially to children in foster care.”
In 2015, Democrat Governor Tom Wolf took office, nominating Dr. Rachel Levine, a transgender pediatrician, as Pennsylvania’s physician general. Before becoming the Assistant Secretary of Health to the Biden administration, Levine worked for six years to advance “LGBTQ rights,” including access to “gender-affirming” care. Levine has pressed for insurance coverage for medical gender transition at the state and federal levels. From 2015 to 2021, Pennsylvania saw a nearly 5000% increase in spending on “gender-affirming” care for minors under 18.
The request included data from Fee-For-Service (FFS) paid claims, Physical Health (PH) HealthChoices paid encounters, and Behavioral Health (BH) HealthChoices paid encounters available in Pennsylvania DHS’ PROMISe from January 1, 2015, through October 21, 2022.
In 2021, Pennsylvania spent more than $3.9 million on services pertaining to “sex reassignment and transition related services and drugs” for minors. This figure is up from $2.7 million in 2020, which saw little increase from 2019, most likely attributed to the pandemic, when outpatient services and elective procedures were put on hold. From January 1, 2022, to October 21, 2022, the state spent $3.7 million on medical interventions for “trans” minors and is on course to exceed previous years.
2015 saw the lowest spending for transitioning minors at $78,000 before “gender-affirming” care was adopted as national policy as part of Obamacare. On July 18, 2016, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services announced that the state Medicaid program would begin to cover all “medically necessary gender transition services.” 2016 saw a 755% increase from 2015 at $668,000.
“This level of state-endorsed harm upon children is reprehensible,” said Alexis Sneller of the PA Family Institute. “While we knew the Wolf administration was funding services related to these irreversible procedures on minors, now seeing the exact numbers–millions spent towards these detrimental acts–is still shocking.”
Dr. Nadia Dowshen, co-founder of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) Gender Clinic, praised Levine during a 2018 lecture for being a “really wonderful advocate” for “work[ing] to ensure young people have coverage of these medications,” noting how expensive puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, and gender-related surgeries can be.
A young Pennsylvania woman named KC Miller had a viral video on Twitter describing the significant hair loss and receding hairline she now has after five years of taking testosterone. Miller adopted a transgender identity at 16 and was referred to a local gender clinic by CHOP, where she was prescribed the hormone just after her 17th birthday. Only six months after the injections started, she received a double mastectomy to remove her breasts. At age 21, she announced that she wanted to detransition after realizing that “social contagion” greatly influenced her initial decision.
“Gender-affirming” care discourages medical professionals from questioning a minor’s self-reported transgender identity or exploring possible underlying factors that may be causing their dysphoria. The standard protocol for gender affirmation is administering puberty blockers, followed by cross-sex hormones, and then surgery, if desired. Proponents generally argue that parental approval should not be a requirement and reject medical “gatekeeping.”
None of these U.S.-based organizations that endorse “gender-affirming” care have done systematic reviews of the evidence, while arguably more leftist European countries like Sweden, Finland, and England have. After reviewing the evidence for the use of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones in treating pediatric gender dysphoria, health authorities in all three countries have decided to abandon the “gender-affirming” model, finding the costs outweigh the benefits.