'Gender affirming' pediatric clinic removes training materials after scrutiny

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has yet to acknowledge pulling down "LGBTQ Education Center" modules that show, among other things, how to overcome parental resistance.

Updated: September 28, 2022 - 7:13am

Hospitals that offer "gender affirming" treatment to minors, from puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to surgery, are taking down evidence of their procedures and related materials in response to public scrutiny.

They have different strategies for explaining their actions, however, from refusing to acknowledge removals to citing "misinformation." 

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) has ignored half a dozen queries from Just the News since Sept. 21 asking why it removed the "LGBTQ Education Center" tab from its Gender and Sexuality Development Clinic's professional resources page last week. 

Still intact as of Aug. 17, the tab explained the program was designed to help "clinicians and other patient care associates" discuss gender and sexuality with "pediatric patients." It included links to six training modules, which now say "you are in a place with no files." Local media don't appear to have reported on the removal.

The modules disappeared the same day local mother and activist Meg Brock posted clips from one of the videos. She has since posted more materials, including a kindergarten lesson on gender pronouns, urging followers to "vote red."

The clips show clinicians overcoming a mother's resistance to treating her teenage son as a girl. In the sketch, "Amanda" admits to not eating because his mother won't approve cross-sex hormones that would help him look more feminine. 

The clinicians tell the mother they are "definitely not saying" she has to give her son Jacob hormones, but warn that "not eating is just not an option anymore." They offer to connect her with "professionals" to learn more, and she promises to try to treat Jacob as Amanda. Brock also saved the CHOP clinic's modules to her Dropbox account.

A 2021 clinic report discloses it has a social worker tasked with convincing insurance companies to approve breast and genital removal surgeries for minors. Its "funders and partners" page includes Philadelphia and Pennsylvania public health departments.

The clinic's director has publicly encouraged pediatricians to discuss gender identity with patients as young as six, suggesting leading questions about body discomfort, fear of puberty and desire to become the opposite sex.

The clinic's founder spoke at a National Institutes of Health event in 2018, disclosing that the clinic transitions children who don't meet the "clinically significant distress" prong of gender dysphoria. Nadia Dowshen recommended starting girls on puberty blockers so they won't develop breasts and said "education and training" are a "huge part of our mission."

In a March 2021 email obtained via public records request, the gender clinic's education specialist tells a Bucks County education official that it would "prefer not to record" a scheduled gender training that was already full. Samantha King offered to discuss "other training opportunities" and said she'd been "begging" the school district to host them.

Akron Children's Hospital took down gender transition materials Sept. 18, hours after Libs of TikTok posted a 2019 news report about its then-new Center for Gender Affirming Medicine, which said it offers "pubertal suppression" to patients as young as 7. It joined Ohio gender clinics in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.

A scrubbed version of the center's page reappeared sometime between the evening of Sept. 19 and morning of Sept. 23, missing the tab that names its director, Crystal Cole. Her profile page remains live as of Tuesday, but not a June 2021 feature on a child whose gender transition the clinic facilitated.

The hospital told News 5 Cleveland on Sept. 22 that it took down the materials because the Libs of TikTok tweet thread sparked a flood of "harassment, intimidation and the intentional spread of misinformation."

Its full statement cited "online chatter that is full of misinformation about the care we provide" but didn't specify the misinformation. News reports at the center's founding emphasized it doesn't perform surgeries.

Akron Children's Hospital didn't respond to queries from Just the News.

Brock also saved the CHOP clinic's modules to the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. She told Just the News Friday that they had been "wiped" with no explanation.

Just the News has not been able to play the videos from the Wayback Machine at any point, just the first slide in the module before the video starts.

Wayback Machine Director Mark Graham promised to investigate over the weekend, telling Just the News that it has trouble archiving videos. He followed up Monday, blaming "a timing issue related to the generation of indexes" but pledging it does not remove archives based on content.

The same technical hiccup is responsible for the disappearance of the Sept. 21 archive of the clinic's professional resources page between Friday and Monday, Graham said. "Our indexing process is very complicated ... many billions of new objects/week," he wrote in an email.

The archiving engine's content moderation practices came up in a recent controversy over the online discussion forum Kiwi Farms, the target of a successful deplatforming campaign for alleged doxing. The Wayback Machine took down and blocked future archives from the forum.

Asked to explain on what grounds archives can be removed, and how much leeway staff have to remove archives, Graham said the Wayback Machine "may comment in the future" about the Kiwi Farms block "but not now." 

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