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Washington University Transgender Center Stops Prescribing Medications to Minor Patients

Washington University Transgender Center Stops Prescribing Medications to Minor Patients

Washington University in St. Louis and a person looking at the camera.

A new Missouri law allows current patients to continue receiving care, but a provision of that statute makes prescribing those medications “untenable.”

After misinformation spread about its gender-affirming care program, Washington University in St. Louis has come under intense scrutiny. Under a new Missouri law banning such treatments for new patients, the university's Transgender Center has decided not to prescribe medications to minors going forward.

In a statement posted online, the Washington University Transgender Center attributed its decision to “unacceptable” legal exposure if it were to continue.

The center said that patients under 18 will be referred to other providers for these medications, including hormones and puberty blockers. Gender-affirming health care for transgender youth is supported by a vast majority of medical associations in the United States, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“We are disheartened to have to take this step,” a university statement read. “However, Missouri’s newly enacted law regarding transgender care has created a new legal claim for patients who received these medications as minors. This legal claim creates unsustainable liability for health-care professionals and makes it untenable for us to continue to provide comprehensive transgender care for minor patients without subjecting the university and our providers to an unacceptable level of liability.”

Gov. Mike Parson signed into law a ban on gender-affirming care for new patients under 18 in June after the Republican legislature passed it. Patients of Washington University’s youth gender clinic could still receive treatment under the new law. However, a special provision in the law allows patients to sue doctors who prescribe hormones to minors.

Patients who received care as minors can sue their doctors 15 years after treatment or after their 21st birthday, whichever is later. A Missouri patient generally has two years to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

This law made the university’s continuation of these services “untenable,” it said.

An ex-employee of the university’s gender clinic accused doctors in the spring of prescribing treatment too quickly, drawing the attention of politicians who want to ban gender-affirming care for minors.

Former caseworker Jamie Reed, who worked at the facility between 2018 and late 2022, alleged that children were often given puberty blockers or hormones without obtaining proper mental health assessments.

An internal investigation by Washington University in St. Louis released in April found no evidence that the gender-affirming medicine clinic failed to assess minors in its care.

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