Advocate for gender rights pushes back on Vanderbilt Transgender Clinic controversy

Gender rights advocate pushes back on Vanderbilt clinic controversy
Posted at 9:11 PM, Sep 22, 2022

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The fallout continues over a conservative blogger's post about Vanderbilt University Medical Center's Transgender Health Clinic. The tweet thread condemned VUMC for conducting gender-affirming related procedures and treatments on adults and children.

Now lawmakers are threatening to propose legislation that would ban underage procedures, while advocacy organizations are fighting back.

"We certainly shouldn’t allow a child to be disfigured in this horrible way, in an irreversible procedure before they’re 18 years of age," said Rep. William Lamberth, R-Portland.

Rep. Lamberth is among a few Tennessee Republican lawmakers working directly with Walsh on new legislation that would outlaw underage transgender procedures in Tennessee.

"When they become adults, if they want to have a sex change operation, if they want to have cosmetic surgery, if they want to do whatever they’d like to do as adults, they’re adults, they can make decisions on their own. But leave our children alone," said Lambert, who also serves as the House Majority Leader.

"Folks like me aren’t monstrous," said Dahron Johnson, "These children, God, no child is monstrous, right?"

Members of the transgender community like Johnson say new legislation restricting gender-affirming care would do much more harm than good.

"The real danger is when that type of care is taken away," said Johnson, who also works in hospice care. "That just risks the best possible health outcomes for those patients, whatever their age."

She said she might not still be sitting here if it wasn't for the gender-affirming care she received at VUMC and hates the thought that minors might be stripped of those options.

"Places like Vanderbilt are few and far between," she said. "There is a really underserved population of folks that find it difficult to find the care they need."

Johnson says despite how the transgender clinic was characterized, she found Vanderbilt to be ethical and thoughtful every step of the way. "There are age-appropriate limits on what type of treatments are even discussed or offered," said Johnson. "There are well-established practices, ongoing conversations about what the best possible and most appropriate care looks like from bodies of medical professionals."

That's one of the reasons why she's worried about what may happen next on Capitol Hill.

"It wouldn’t just be a shame if that went away, it would make for poorer families, it would make for poorer communities," she said.

Meanwhile, Rep. Lamberth says you can expect his new legislation related to the Vanderbilt clinic controversy to be introduced during the 2023 Tennessee General Assembly.