News (USA)

Amid threats, Colorado hospital ends gender-affirming surgeries for adults

West Virginia, transgender, medical care, Medicaid, lawsuit, gender-affirming healthcare
Photo: The Gender Spectrum Collection

Children’s Hospital Colorado will no longer provide gender-affirming surgeries for adults and has “largely scrubbed references to gender-affirming care from its website,” The Denver Post reports.

While the hospital said this was due to an “unprecedented” demand for gender-affirming adult surgeries procedures, other hospitals nationwide have also removed information about gender-affirming care from their websites to defend against right-wing falsehoods and death threats of doctors “mutilating children.” However, deleting this information makes it more difficult for trans people of all ages to find healthcare.

“Children’s hospitals across the country have been directly threatened as a result of the gender-affirming care provided in their institutions,” Rachael Fowler, a spokesperson for Children’s Hospital Colorado told NBC News. Right-wing claims about gender-affirming doctors “sexually mutilating children’s genitals” have led to bomb and death threats against hospitals and healthcare providers.

Fowler said that such threats at other hospitals didn’t influence her hospital’s decision. Rather, her hospital made its decision after experiencing “unprecedented referrals” for surgery at its facility, she said. The hospital will now refer adult patients to other hospitals for such surgery but will continue to offer puberty-blockers and hormone replacement therapy to adults and minors alike.

The number of “unprecedented referrals” may have resulted from Colorado being a trans-accepting “sanctuary state” surrounded by states that have either passed or are considering bans on gender-affirming care. In April 2023, the state’s out gay Gov. Jared Polis (D) signed a “shield law” defending gender-affirming healthcare seekers in Colorado from investigations and prosecutions by other states that ban gender-affirming healthcare.

In addition to changing its surgical policies, Children’s Hospital Colorado removed numerous references to gender-affirming care from its website, The Denver Post reported. Its website shortened the name of the state’s “TRUE Center for Gender Diversity” to just “TRUE Center,” and the center can’t be searched on the site. Searching for “transgender” on the website also provides several doctors’ names but doesn’t clearly say if they provide gender-affirming care.

At least 21 other children’s hospitals nationwide have removed information about gender-affirming care from their websites, including info about the types of care offered and the professionals who provide it.

Such website deletions and policy changes can delay patients’ procedures, hide information that would help make some people feel more comfortable pursuing gender-affirming care at a hospital, and make it more difficult for care-seekers to find and obtain local services online, advocates say.

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