‘Everything Got Worse’: One Mom’s Harrowing Story from Inside Whistleblower’s Trans Clinic
Her nightmare started a few years ago, when her son, Casey, turned 13. When he announced he was “gender fluid,” Caroline assumed it was a phase. His father didn’t necessarily disagree but thought he should try counseling at The Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s hospital. It’s a decision that haunts them to this day.
Instead of talking through Casey’s issues, the psychologist recommended puberty blockers — something Caroline was firmly against. But when she resisted, the team started bombarding her with terrifying statistics about suicide and self-harm. “I was flabbergasted,” she told The Free Press, “and I really felt like this is not a meeting for me to get answers to my questions, and for everybody to have equal say. This is like I’m the last man standing, and now it’s being implied that if I don’t okay this, I don’t care if my kid kills himself.”
“I felt bullied,” she said.
Doctors insisted the puberty blockers were “standard procedure” for anyone “experiencing discomfort with their sex.” And yet, Caroline was shocked to learn, that this “standard procedure” would almost certainly lead to infertility. When the psychologist wanted to know if Casey wanted to bank his sperm before they started the drug Supprelin, she kept thinking: my son is only 14 years old. “It was weird, and I didn’t like where this was going. It was just so overwhelming.”
Instead of talking to the parents privately, the meetings were held with Casey present. At one point, the therapist answered Caroline’s question, “Why should we do this?” by simply stating, “Well, it’s what Casey wants, and we want Casey to feel comfortable.” It was like her concerns and rights as a parent had ceased to exist.
Ultimately, Casey got the implant in his arm that would deliver the drugs that Caroline now believes destroyed his life. “Caroline sent her emailed consent. ‘I thought, let’s see what happens. And what happened was that everything got worse.’”
In the matter of a semester, “Casey went from all As and Bs to a report card dotted with Ds and Fs. Many days he found it impossible to get out of bed. He missed so much school that it triggered an official meeting about his truancy that included a circuit court judge. He gained more than 30 pounds. Most alarmingly, during one therapy session about seven months after he started the blocker, he told the center’s psychologist that he was having suicidal thoughts” — the very thing doctors promised this treatment would prevent.
In June, Caroline wrote a frantic letter to the center revoking her consent for the dangerous pharmaceuticals. “The doctors in charge disagreed,” The Free Press’s Emily Yoffe wrote. “The Supprelin is still in his arm.”
Jamie Reed happened to be one of the staff on his case. She wrote a worried note to her colleagues at the time because she was so concerned. “I have been monitoring this chart … and I have been following the mental health worsening in [the phsychologist’s] visit notes.”
Reed, a longtime trans activist, had been so disturbed by Casey’s story that she told the Free Press “it was part of my decision to leave the center, and then to blow the whistle.” Her explosive affidavit led to a full-blown investigation by Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey (R), who told “Washington Watch” last month, “If even one-tenth of the allegations are true [against the St. Louis center], they’re abusing children.”
In several instances — not just Casey’s — parents were strong-armed into chemically mutilating their children against their own judgment. “No parent should feel pressured,” Reed said about Caroline’s story. “That is not true informed consent.” If infertility is a possible side effect, then “you have to stop and say we need to get real counseling about reproduction.”
Earlier this year, when Reed’s allegations about the transgender center hit the press, Caroline’s sister forwarded the article to her. “When I read it, I’m like — this is what happened to me! I felt validated. I felt: I knew it, I knew it.”
For now, AG Bailey’s investigation into the clinic is ongoing, but, Yoffe writes, “Based on his discoveries so far, he will be promulgating an emergency regulation to stop treatments” that “lack clinical evidence of safety or success” — which Family Research Council’s Dr. Jennifer Bauwens insists all are.
On “Washington Watch” Friday, she blamed groups like the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) for creating guidelines that “forget the science, and make the science say whatever we want it to say.” The default of places like St. Louis’s transgender clinic is “very dangerous,” she insisted, because they’re bullying parents into “irreversible physiological procedures that are harming children.”
And yet, Bauwens went on, “all these medical groups [have] agreed that this is the best way to treat children who identify as transgender. So notice what I said. ‘Agreed.’ Basically, they voted on these practices, because the science is lacking. So this is a common practice especially in the psychological field. They’re voting on something that is the most invasive treatment to a psychological condition that … we’ve almost ever had aside from the lobotomy. And it’s a voted on practice. So that’s what I meant when I said the WPATH might be putting this out. But this isn’t real science. This is a vote.”
Meanwhile, other countries — many of which are even more socially progressive than America — are pulling back. And yes, Bauwens agreed, they face similar pressure, but they’ve also “been doing these transgender surgeries longer … And I’m not an advocate for socialized medicine, but one of the benefits is that they have a better tracking system. … [In] Sweden, for example, they’ve been able to track the results of those who were offered transgender surgeries, and they were able to see that those who went through these procedures, the surgeries, they were actually 19 times more likely to commit suicide. So the supposed statement that this kind of care ‘prevents people from committing suicide,’ and that ‘it’s lifesaving,’ and the ‘science is settled’ is an absolute farce that some of these European countries have been able to see over a longer period of time. And we have a group [here in the U.S.] that’s just bought [the radical transition push] hook, line, and sinker.”
For moms like Caroline, who’ve watched helplessly as their child plunges into despair and self-doubt, the idea that states like Pennsylvania are actually considering removing parents from their kids’ gender transition plans is beyond horrifying. “I don’t think kids should make lasting decisions when they don’t have the capability to do so,” she insisted. Even now, Casey agrees that his mom’s “concerns are valid,” admitting to Yoffe that “my mental health has decreased a lot since starting [Supprelin].”
His pharmaceutical implant is scheduled to come out in July — a full year after Caroline withdrew her consent.
For now, she just wonders if her family will ever be the same again. “My son needs the antidote to this whole therapy. I feel like he needs a licensed therapist, an endocrinologist, people who can see him through the recovery from this. It’s going to be physical and mental. And then we need family counseling, because this whole thing has torn us apart.”
Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.