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'Gender affirming' care in the cross hairs from detransitioner lawsuits, 'conversion therapy' claims

Reinstated Oregon lawsuit joins California, Rhode Island litigation with "dissociated identities" plaintiff. Surgeon privately warned of perforated rectum, clitoral death, surgical incisions reopening up to 75% of the time.

Published: February 23, 2024 11:00pm

The Biden administration is facing United Nations scrutiny for its proposed transgender school athletics rules, which could violate its treaty obligations to protect women and girls.

States including Indiana are facing legal scrutiny for requiring parents, at least sometimes, to affirm the gender identity of their children.

Next to come under the microscope and the gavel: doctors who perform and prescribe so-called gender affirming procedures and treatments.

A surgeon who makes vaginas for males privately told peers that complications from vaginoplasties "can be pretty bad," including "perforat[ing] the rectum" and death of the clitoris, in a recording obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation this month.

Surgical incisions reopen as often as 75% of the time, Gender Reassignment Surgery of Montreal's Alex Laungani told a World Professional Association for Transgender Health event, even as he encouraged peers to do the procedures frequently to get better at them.

He warned the audience that "proper training" was likely lacking in the "growing number" of gender-affirmation programs, and "it’s time just to make sure that we have the right training and that everybody has the same standard because the patients deserve it."

Women from coast to coast who returned to identifying as females are suing their providers and even the American Academy of Pediatrics in state courts, alleging malpractice, negligence, fraud and civil conspiracy.

An Oregon court resurrected a lawsuit by detransitioner Camille Kiefel — unusual among peers for transitioning as an adult — a year after its dismissal due to an inadvertent gap in her representation, rejoining litigation by Californians Chloe Cole and Kayla Lovdahl.

Kiefel accuses her providers of a sloppy evaluation using "cut-and-pasted boilerplate diagnostic criteria" to approve her for a double mastectomy and almost giving her the wrong surgery. She started the nonprofit Detrans Help and is seeking donations again for her litigation. 

"Therapists, plastic surgeons, hospitals, and the entire medical industry must know: You will be held accountable for failing to provide basic standards of care to these vulnerable patients," the GiveSendGo campaign says. Kiefel has raised around $1,600.

Even the Old Gray Lady is featuring detransitioners, frightened parents and now-skeptical therapists including Oregon's Stephanie Winn, who share the social and professional pressure they face to not question gender affirmation.

Grace Powell started cross-sex hormones at 17 and had her breasts removed the summer before college, but a year later Powell's depression had metastasized into dissociation from her body and reality, she told New York Times columnist Pamela Paul.

Powell said no one in the process explored the reasons behind her depression or asked about her sexual orientation or past trauma, which included child sexual abuse. She now says transitioning "magnified what I found was wrong with myself."

Gay adults who detransitioned told Paul they consider their youth transitions a form of conversion therapy. 

Kasey Emerick said her mother approved her transition after having her committed for Emerick's stated attraction to females. She got a double mastectomy and went on testosterone, which permanently changed her voice.

Adult transitioner and registered nurse Aaron Kimberly, who still identifies as a man, stopped working at a gender clinic when it banned Kimberly from referring troubled young patients "for further mental health care rather than immediate hormone treatment," Paul paraphrases. Kimberly and gender-clinic whistleblower Jamie Reed founded the LGBT Courage Coalition.

Nearly a third of gender-affirming patients stop taking hormones or otherwise request a change to their treatment, according to U.S. military and children's hospital studies.

Oregon's Multnomah County Circuit Court set aside its judgment of dismissal for "failure to prosecute" in detransitioner Kiefel's case Dec. 18, 2023, seven months after her lawyer's widow filed the motion.

Patricia Campbell arranged for her longtime spouse, former Trump administration education official Candice Jackson, to take over Kiefel's case when Campbell entered hospice care for an "aggressive" cancer diagnosed less than a month after the suit's filing, the May 30 motion says.

But Campbell didn't get court notices "likely due to misplacement of business mail" during her hospitalization and hospice care, and Jackson took bereavement leave when Campbell died Dec. 29, 2022. Jackson's law partner informed defense counsel of the situation but the paperwork in the court system never got updated, the motion says.

Kiefel is now represented by lawyer Benjamin Boyd. He told Just the News a Jan. 10 entry in the docket refers to the defendants being served with the reinstatement order and a copy of the amended complaint.

Detransitioners Isabelle Ayala and Hannah Ulery separately sued the same Rhode Island gender-affirming providers on the same day in October. They share a lawyer, Gregory Piccirilli, known for representing parents against school mask mandates and teachers fired for refusing COVID-19 vaccination, though each complaint names a different medical practice.

Ayala's suit also names the American Academy of Pediatrics for civil conspiracy with the providers in publishing, promoting and profiting from AAP's 2018 statement recommending gender-affirming care, which "fraudulently and misleadingly misrepresents" the evidence for the interventions and the "known risks and dangers."

AAP "at the very least failed to exercise any degree of institutional control over those ideological actors whom it had empowered" in Rhode Island, the 20-year-old's suit says. 

The providers, who worked at defendant Lifespan Physician Group, conned Ayala at age 14 into believing testosterone "would resolve her mental health issues," but she tried to kill herself six months after starting the hormone, which gave her irreversible "vaginal atrophy" and "compromised bone structure," the suit says.

Ulery's suit has a tabloid-ready premise: She claims to have been "inhabited by more than eight autonomous identities," ages 6 to 23 and both sexes, "with various medical and psychological needs during her treatment," and went by Leighton at that time. 

Her new name is Layton, "recognizing her new unified identity, which integrates her previously dissociated personalities," a footnote says.

The "traumatized lesbian woman" escaped from a cult that sexually abused her and tried to cure her homosexuality in 2015. Ulery's dissociation prevented her from managing her "day-to-day affairs and left her perpetually on the brink of homelessness and in a constant stage of food insecurity," the suit says.

Ulery sought treatment for her dissociations, but the providers put her on a gender-affirming course because she said some of her identities were male, even though neither she nor her "alters" were transgender, according to the suit. 

This was despite a therapist defendant concluding from a diagnostic interview with Ulery that only one alter wanted breast removal and others objected to testosterone, and that Ulery experiences gender dysphoria specifically "when in a state of derealization."

The federal government moved Ulery's suit to federal court in January and filed to dismiss because Ulery hasn't exhausted "the administrative claim process at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services," which covers some defendants. She responded by seeking a stay of the proceedings for six months while that process plays out.

Ulery defendant Thundermist Health Center, where the providers common to both suits also worked, is a "persistent agitator in Rhode Island public schools," parent-activist Nicole Solas wrote in The Daily Wire this month.

Solas cited her public records request, which revealed Thundermist trained one district's social workers to hide gender transitions from parents and inform them about surgery options for "older teens" and insurance coverage. Other records showed Thundermist apparently tried to convince a local library to cancel an event with Solas and Jackson, the former Trump official.

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