Speed Reads

Bad Medicine

Vanderbilt's transgender health clinic pauses gender-affirming surgery for minors amid GOP pressure

Amid intense pressure from Republicans, the Vanderbilt University Medical Center's transgender clinic has decided to suspend all gender-affirming surgeries for minors. 

Dr. C. Wright Pinson, an executive at the Nashville, Tennessee, health center, sent a letter to Republican lawmakers in the state confirming they would be "pausing" gender-affirming procedures in order to "review recommendations."

In a statement sent to CNN, Vanderbilt confirmed the letter was real, but would not elaborate on the new policy. 

Gender-affirming surgeries are defined by the Cleveland Clinic as "procedures that help people transition to their self-identified gender," and Vanderbilt's decision comes despite a large majority of the medical community, including the American Medical Association, concluding that gender-affirming surgeries are safe, effective, and can help children with gender dysmorphia.

The decision to halt gender-affirming surgeries comes under a wave of criticism over the procedures, mostly from Republican politicians in GOP-led states such as Tennessee. The push for Vanderbilt to change its policy was led by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R), who told The Tennessean that the university's clinic raised "serious moral, ethical, and legal concerns," and added that their practices should be investigated. 

As part of the anti-gender-affirming push, the state legislature also passed a 2021 law banning hormone therapy for children. 

Vanderbilt's decision was heavily criticized by the medical and legal community, including the AMA and the ACLU. The latter said in a statement, "Parents, patients, and medical professionals, not politicians, should decide what medical care is in the best interest of any particular young person."