American Academy of Pediatrics Sued Over Controversial ‘Gender-Affirming Care’ Guidance

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
October 26, 2023US News
American Academy of Pediatrics Sued Over Controversial ‘Gender-Affirming Care’ Guidance
Isabelle Ayala in a file image. (Courtesy of Isabelle Ayala)

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is among the defendants in a new lawsuit filed by a woman who was prescribed cross-sex hormones when she was a child.

The AAP in 2018 published guidance calling for clinicians to provide “gender-affirming care” to “transgender children,” alleging that children who believe they’re a different gender from their birth gender do not suffer from a mental disorder. The guidance claimed puberty blockers could be prescribed to let children “explore gender identity” and were “completely reversible,” which some experts say is not true.

It also said that cross-sex hormones could be prescribed to let children “develop secondary sex characteristics of the opposite biological sex,” even though it acknowledged that some effects of the hormones are not reversible.

Doctors, including one who helped craft the guidance, relied on the guidance when prescribing cross-sex hormones to Isabelle Ayala, according to the new suit.

Isabelle was feeling discomfort with puberty, which was exacerbated by the sexual assault she suffered when she was seven, the suit says. She suffered mental health issues including depression and anxiety. Isabelle began believing she was transgender after engaging with others over social media.

Just before she turned 14, she went to see the pediatric gender team at Hasbro Children’s Hospital. She said she was experiencing thoughts of wanting to commit suicide due to her mother trying to stop her from receiving testosterone.

Isabelle was actually not suicidal but had been coached online to mention suicide as a way to receive the hormones, according to the suit.

After being admitted as an inpatient, Isabelle told Dr. Jason Rafferty, who helped craft the AAP guidance, that she wanted to start hormones but that she also might want to give birth one day.

In a matter of minutes, and either primarily or solely based on Isabelle’s comments, Dr. Rafferty allegedly decided Isabelle would benefit from the hormones. If her parents would not approve, “there would be concern for the ongoing wellbeing of this child,” Dr. Rafferty was quoted as saying in notes on the visit.

Dr. Rafferty and other doctors soon told Isabelle’s parents that the only treatment for her issues was hormones and that the hormones were backed by scientific research. The parents gave their consent based on those fraudulent misrepresentations, the suit says.

After beginning to receive the hormones, Isabelle’s depression and anxiety worsened, culminating in a suicide attempt. Dr. Rafferty initially increased the dosage and, after the attempt, did not adjust the dosage or stop the drug.

In notes on a visit about two months after the attempt, Dr. Rafferty is accused of writing that Ms. Ayala had “no history of trauma.”

After Isabelle moved to Florida, she soon stopped taking the testosterone.

“She gradually grew out of her gender dysphoria and began to become more comfortable with her female body, altered as it was from taking testosterone. She realized she was not a boy and never could have been one,” the suit states. “Instead, she realized that her mental health issues and discomfort in her body were likely the result of her traumatic childhood and other mental health comorbidities—a realization any competent physician would have also realized or at least explored—and detransitioned.”

The suit alleges a civil conspiracy among the AAP, Dr. Rafferty, and the other defendants, in addition to fraud, medical malpractice, and negligence. It asks for compensatory and punitive damages, attorney’s fees, and any other relief the court determines is just.

The suit was filed on Oct. 23 in Rhode Island superior court.

Defendants, including AAP, could not be reached or did not respond to requests for comment.

AAP’s board of directors in August unanimously voted to reaffirm the guidance on treating “transgender children.”

“The board has confidence that the existing evidence is such that the current policy is appropriate,” Mark Del Monte, AAP’s CEO, said at the time.

The AAP has also issued amicus briefs supporting challenges to state laws that ban “gender-affirming” care for children, with the briefs citing its policy guidance.

Another Suit

In a second suit filed this week in Rhode Island, Dr. Rafferty was among those named as defendants and accused of medical malpractice and negligence.

Layton Ulery says she was “in a fractured and unstable psychiatric condition” when she sought treatment from the defendants, but instead of providing appropriate care, the defendants “prioritized their own agendas, ideologies, and professional interests and pulled her down a harmful path of transgender-affirming medicalization that was detrimental to her long-term health and well-being.”

Ms. Ulery was in her mid-20s when she went to the doctors, who prescribed testosterone. She experienced significant side effects, including “dangerous mood swings,” according to the suit.

After Ms. Ulery decided to stop the hormones, she saw support from her doctors dry up, the suit says. After stopping, she realized that “her desire for a male body was not gender dysphoria but body dysmorphia brought about by a late puberty, childhood b ullying, trauma from sexual assaults, and an unhealthy perspective that she could never achieve the beauty of all the women she encountered on social media and TV.”

Jordan Campbell, a lawyer representing the women, told The Epoch Times via email: “Layton and Isabelle are unfortunate victims of ideologically captured actors who have let an agenda steer their professional practice. In Isabelle’s case, who was only 14 when she was in desperate need of honest medical treatment, this includes the AAP. Through these cases our clients hope to achieve a singular goal: to prevent what was done to them from being done to other vulnerable young women in the future.”

From The Epoch Times

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