Tennessee lawmakers are revisiting the possibility of legislation to crack down on child gender transitions after the release of multiple videos related to Vanderbilt Medical Center’s so-called gender-affirming care.
The governor and state lawmakers said this week that they are discussing legislative solutions after video footage showed a doctor calling certain transgender surgeries “huge money makers” and a health law expert saying conscientious objections to the surgeries are “problematic.”
This week, a groundswell of lawmakers demanded an investigation into the Pediatric Transgender Clinic, one of two transgender clinics at the medical center, after an exposé on transgender surgeries from Daily Wire host Matt Walsh. The other clinic is for adults.
On Wednesday, Walsh said he had met with state Rep. William Lamberth (R-TN) and state Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R-TN) to discuss a potential bill. “We are working on a bill to shut down Vanderbilt’s child gender transition program and ban the practice in the state. Tennesseans do not want this barbarism in our state. We will put a stop to it,” Walsh tweeted.
Governor Bill Lee’s (R-TN) office said he is in contact with the state’s top lawmakers about potential legislation as well.
“We should not allow permanent, life altering decisions that hurt children, like we saw on display at VUMC. The Governor is in communication with Leader Johnson and Leader Lamberth about legislative solutions, and we look forward to working with them and many other Tennesseans who are passionate about protecting children,” Casey Sellers, a spokeswoman for the governor, said in a statement to The Daily Wire.
The pediatric gender clinic at VUMC performs “gender-affirming” double mastectomies on minor girls and offers puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for minors as well, Walsh noted.
In one video uncovered by Walsh, a Vanderbilt doctor affiliated with the adult transgender clinic, but not the pediatric one, can be seen emphasizing the dollar signs around gender surgery.
“It’s a lot of money. These surgeries make a lot of money,” VUMC Clinic for Transgender Health’s Dr. Shayne Sebold Taylor said in one video.
Taylor said that “gender-affirming” double mastectomies could bring in $40,000, and a female-to-male phalloplasty could bring in upwards of $100,000.
Another doctor associated with the hospital says that objecting to gender surgery for religious or other reasons should have “consequences.”
“I just want you to take home that saying that you’re not going to do something because of your religious beliefs is not without consequences and it should not be without consequences,” said Vanderbilt health law expert and pediatrician Dr. Ellen Wright Clayton.
“If you don’t want to do this kind of work, don’t work at Vanderbilt,” Clayton added.
Earlier this year, a bill that would have banned gender surgeries, puberty blockers, and cross-sex hormones for minors died in the Tennessee legislature after it failed to garner enough Republican support.
The ill-fated Youth Health Protection Act was sponsored by state Sen. Janice Bowling (R).
Another bill that made it into law last year banned cross-sex hormones for prepubescent children. However, cross-sex hormones are not commonly prescribed to prepubescent gender-dysphoric youth, who would be more likely to receive a prescription for puberty blockers.
Bowling described last year’s bill as “worse than nothing” since, in her view, it tacitly approved cross-sex hormones for older children.
“It was a smoke and mirror bill. In the appearance of preventing something, it actually tacitly enabled something,” she told The Daily Wire.
Tennessee does have a law on the books prohibiting female genital mutilation, a practice common in some ethnic communities, but it is unlikely that the law would ever be interpreted to apply to gender surgery.