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Vanderbilt University clinic responds to claims of unethical transgender surgery on minors

Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) rejected claims that it performs unethical transgender surgeries on minors Wednesday, saying it requires parental consent for anyone under the age of 18.

The statement comes in relation to calls from Tennessee lawmakers to investigate the clinic following a report from conservative activist Matt Walsh. The VUMC denied any wrongdoing in a statement to Fox News Digital, saying it conducts all of its care “in compliance with state law and in line with professional practice standards.”

“VUMC requires parental consent to treat a minor patient who is to be seen for issues related to transgender care and never refuses parental involvement in the care of transgender youth who are under age 18,” the statement read. “Our policies allow employees to decline to participate in care they find morally objectionable and do not permit discrimination against employees who choose to do so. This includes employees whose personal or religious beliefs do not support gender-affirming care for transgender persons.”

Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and others called for an investigation after a Tuesday report from Walsh claimed that VUMC “drugs, chemically castrates and performs double mastectomies on minors.”

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Walsh’s report references a series of videos from Vanderbilt staff indicating the university “has given irreversible hormone drugs to children as young as 13.”

In one such video, Assistant Professor Dr. Shayne Taylor can be heard in a 2018 video apparently discussing “top surgery.” It is not clear at the time of this report if Taylor was referring to surgery on minors in the referenced 2018 video.

“Some of our VUMC financial folks in October of 2016 put down some costs of how much money we think each patient would bring in. And this is only including top surgery, this isn’t including any bottom surgery, and it’s a lot of money,” Taylor said in the video.

“Top surgery” in this context for a female would be a double mastectomy.

Dr. Taylor’s employee page on the VUMC website is no longer available, and the organization did not immediately respond to questions about her employment status.

The page for the transgender pediatric clinic was also unavailable on the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital website, despite being live as recently as August 31. Vanderbilt Health’s “Gender-Affirming Surgery” page was unavailable as of Wednesday, but was live as recently as July 2.

Vanderbilt University denied involvement in the VUMC in a statement to Fox.

“Vanderbilt University Medical Center is a fully independent nonprofit and has been a separate legal entity from Vanderbilt University since 2016. As such, Vanderbilt University has no role in medical decisions and patient care,” university spokesman John O’Brien told Fox.

Lee released a statement calling for an investigation soon after the report’s release.

“The ‘pediatric transgender clinic’ at Vanderbilt University Medical Center [VUMC] raises serious moral, ethical and legal concerns,” Lee said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “We should not allow permanent, life-altering decisions that hurt children or policies that suppress religious liberties, all for the purpose of financial gain. We have to protect Tennessee children, and this warrants a thorough investigation.”

“Agreed, we are with you,” Blackburn wrote in a tweet referencing Lee’s comments.

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Lee spokeswoman Casey Sellers told Fox that the governor’s office has “shared concerns with the Attorney General.”

Tennessee state Rep. William Lamberth joined Lee and Blackburn in condemning the University on Wednesday, saying he hopes to go beyond just an investigation.

“I’m deeply troubled by what Matt Walsh uncovered about the Pediatric Transgender Clinic at VUMC,” Lamberth said. “Gov. Bill Lee is right to call for an investigation, and we will support that investigation 100%. This type of child mutilation should be illegal and soon will be in TN.”

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