ST. LOUIS — The leaders of the Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital said they will not place a moratorium on puberty-blocking medication for new patients despite calls from Missouri's attorney general to do so.
Attorney General Andrew Bailey called for a moratorium on the medications for new patients last week in the wake of an article from a former employee of the center and an investigation from his office.
In a letter to Bailey's office Tuesday, BJC HealthCare CEO Richard Liekweg and Washington University Chancellor Andrew Martin said the facility would not be instituting a moratorium. They said a moratorium would "deny critical, standards-based care to current and new patients."
In the article published last week, a former employee alleged the center was not thoroughly assessing patients before moving ahead with hormonal or surgical treatment and would disregard the rights of parents.
In a statement last week, Bailey said his office had been investigating the Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children's Hospital for two weeks after a whistleblower contacted his office. He said he was announcing the investigation after an article written by the former employee was published online.
Washington University issued a statement last week saying they would cooperate with the attorney general's investigation. They reiterated that commitment in the letter.
"As always, we will continue to cooperate with your office and other government agencies to protect the health and safety of Missouri’s children," the letter said. "We will keep you apprised as we continue to explore this matter, and please feel free to reach out to us at any time."
Missouri Senator Josh Hawley said his office is directing Washington University and the Transgender Clinic to preserve all documentation. Hawley said last week he also talked to Chancellor Andrew Martin who said he was “appalled” by the report and said the University will cooperate fully.
Danielle Meert was the past St. Louis chapter leader of TransParent USA and said the group's goal is to provide support for parents of trans children.
Meert has a transgender son and she was shocked to learn the whistleblower who came forward was her child's caseworker.
In an interview last week, Meert said her family's interaction at the center for the last four years was nowhere near what was alleged in the former employee's article.
"Our experience was fantastic. Saying that kids walk in and get hormones right away has not been our experience. It was about nine months until we had a puberty blocker implanted," Meert said.
Transgender medical treatment for children and teens is increasingly under attack in many states, labeled child abuse and subject to criminalizing bans. But it has been available in the United States for more than a decade and is endorsed by major medical associations.
Many clinics use treatment plans pioneered in Amsterdam 30 years ago, according to a recent review in the British Psych Bulletin. Since 2005, the number of youth referred to gender clinics has increased as much as tenfold in the U.S., U.K, Canada and Finland, the review said.
Several Missouri lawmakers this year filed bills to ban gender-affirming treatment for transgender youth, and Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden said that's a priority for Senate Republicans.
Bailey has been outspoken on social issues since he took office in January. Republican Gov. Mike Parson appointed Bailey, the former top lawyer for the Governor's Office, to replace now-U.S. Sen. Eric Schmitt as the state attorney general.
During his roughly one month in office so far, Bailey has called on school boards to adopt policies against children attending drag shows and warned CVS and Walgreens not to sell abortion medications.
Bailey last month officially launched his campaign for attorney general in 2024.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.