Boston Children’s Hospital performed 204 “gender affirmation” surgeries from 2017 to 2020, including 65 chest surgeries performed on minors, according to data published by the National Institutes of Health. The average chest surgery patient was 18, and the youngest was 15.
The hospital did not report performing any transgender genital surgeries on minors in those years, although the gender center’s staff supported some genital surgeries for minors, according to a 2019 paper titled “Ethical Issues Considered When Establishing a Pediatrics Gender Surgery Center” written for the Boston Children’s Hospital Ethics Advisory Committee.
“The center staff eventually came to the conclusion that it is appropriate to offer vaginoplasties to certain individuals before the age of majority so that they can safely embark on their adult lives,” the paper said, adding that it was necessary to require fertility preservation or a court order granting permission for surgery to avoid legal issues. Only one minor was offered a vaginoplasty by the time of the writing.
Vaginoplasty is the surgical creation of a neo-vagina using existing penis and scrotum tissue, according to Boston Children’s Hospital, which now requires patients to be 18 to undergo the procedure. The operation takes up to 18 months to recover from and requires long-term maintenance including regular vaginal dilation.
The gender center at Boston Children’s Hospital came under fire after a Libs of TikTok tweet claimed the hospital was offering “gender-affirming” hysterectomies to “young girls” Aug. 11, citing a promotional video for the procedure which the hospital has since removed from YouTube. The observation prompted others to share videos produced by the hospital promoting “gender-affirming” surgeries and hormonal treatments, and the hospital said it was inundated with complaints and threats over the perception that is was administering sex changes to children.
Fact-checkers at PolitiFact decided the claim about hysterectomies for minors was false, but they cited hospital guidance that had been edited after the hospital received significant criticism. Days earlier, according to archived webpages, the Boston Children’s Hospital website did not list an age requirement for hysterectomies on the page in question, the one later cited by PolitiFact, and another guidance page once said the hospital offered vaginoplasty surgery at as young as 17 years old; in the scramble to respond to public outrage, BCH since updated this page too.
Another fact check from Lead Stories acknowledged that earlier guidance allowed vaginoplasty for minors and didn’t list any age requirements for hysterectomies, but still classified claims that the hospital was offering hysterectomies to children as “false” on the basis of the new, updated guidance.
The hospital follows standards of care produced by the World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH), which advises against genital surgeries for minors but says chest surgeries should be available to minors, “preferably after ample time of living in the desired gender role and after one year of testosterone treatment.” But WPATH’s new guidelines, which have not been released to the public, lower the minimum age recommendation for hysterectomies and most genital surgeries to 17, according to the Associated Press.
Boston Children’s Hospital is not alone in offering surgical interventions to minors who identify as transgender.
“Surgeons are focusing more attention to gender reassignment surgeries in minors,” according to a literature review from the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund. “For the more complex surgery of vaginoplasty, over half of the surgeons practicing in this area have performed vaginoplasty on an individual under age 18. Nearly all surgeons relied on the term ‘maturity’ rather than chronological age to determine patients’ readiness for the procedure.”
Statistics about childhood sex change surgeries don’t tell the full story of what’s being done to children in the name of gender ideology, Dr. Jay Richards, senior research fellow at the DeVos Center, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“It’s crucial to understand that this ‘treatment’ involves a series of interventions, starting with ‘social transition’ and then puberty blockers, followed by cross-sex hormones and then surgery. Boston Children’s has been up to its eyeballs in this process,” he told the DCNF.
“We know that until recently, almost all young kids with gender dysphoria reconciled with their sexed bodies after they get through puberty,” he said. “The effect of ‘gender affirmation’ and early social transition, in contrast, is to put kids on a fast track to surgical intervention and sterilization. Once done, such sterilization can’t be undone.”
The Boston Children’s Hospital, NBC, Vice and PolitiFact did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment. Lead Stories stood by its fact-check in comments to the Daily Caller News Foundation, saying there was no evidence of hysterectomies having actually been performed on minors at BCU and reiterating that, at the time of the fact-check, the hospital’s policy did not allow hysterectomies to be performed on minors.