Vanderbilt University Medical Center's Pediatric Transgender Clinic program, including gender-affirming surgery, is an "abomination, not just to our state, but to the whole country" and must come under investigation, Rep. Diana Harshbarger said on Newsmax Saturday.
"Vanderbilt is a fine institution but the words pediatric [and] transgender should never be used in the same sentence," the Tennessee Republican said on Newsmax's "America Right Now." "It's all about the money. All you have to do is follow the money, and you'll find your answers."
Vanderbilt this week denied social media claims that it had punished employees for objecting to the gender-affirming treatment program offered there and that the treatments were being done as money-making schemes, reports The Tennessean.
Gov. Bill Lee and other state GOP officials slammed the clinic this week with Lee saying the program raises "serious moral, ethical and legal concerns" and that an investigation will be necessary.
"They look at this as pediatric care to children, starting at age 6," Harshbarger told Newsmax. "Anybody that is a parent or a grandparent would say there is no way these children's brains have developed.
"You can cause confusion and chaos, and it's the very teachers and our healthcare providers that you should absolutely trust that are causing this confusion. They need to be held accountable, and we need to do an investigation; and that's exactly what our governor's doing."
Vanderbilt, in a statement, said the hospital "requires parental consent to treat a minor patient who is to be seen for issues related to transgender care and never refuses parental involvement."
Further, the hospital's policies allow employees to decline to participate in care they find morally objectionable, the statement said, including "employees whose personal or religious beliefs do not support gender-affirming care for transgender persons."
But Harshbarger said Tennessee is a state that believes in "faith and family and freedom in the flag" and should not have a program such as Vanderbilt's happening.
"If it's going on in Tennessee, where else is it occurring that people haven't even thought about it?" she asked. "We need to start asking questions. That's an attack on freedom of religion for one thing, and here we go.
"You think you're sheltered as a red state, but you're not. It's up to us as legislators to step in and say this is wrong. We have to be a voice for those parents and our freedoms ... these children are the future. I'm a mother and a grandmother and, of course, I'm going to stand up."
In addition, said Harshbarger, "adolescent brains" cannot decide whether to undergo an "irreversible procedure."
"These puberty blockers are one thing, but when you go into cross-sex hormones — and as a pharmacist, I can assure you that they don't even know the long-term effects of these drugs," said Harshbarger.
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