A new report from the PA Family Institute says the state has spent more than $20 million on “gender-affirming” care, including transgender surgeries and services for minors.
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is among the recipients of state funding for those services for children whose families couldn’t afford the controversial treatment. A spokesperson for CHOP did not comment when asked about the hospital’s program.
The nonprofit Family Institute obtained the information from right-to-know requests revealing how much the taxpayer-funded health program paid for puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, and gender-related surgeries for children and teens 18 years and younger.
“This shocking report reveals Pennsylvania taxpayers are being forced to fund harmful drugs and surgeries on children, sending millions of dollars every year to carry out detrimental and irreversible procedures upon minors,” said PA Family Institute President Michael Geer.
Dan Bartkowiak, director of communications for PA Family Insitute, said the state spent $5 million in 2022 and is on track to spend even more in 2023. That $5 million works out to nearly $14,000 per day for sex reassignment and transition-related treatment for children. That is 80 times higher than the $60,600 spent in 2015.
Bartkowiak called the expenditure “staggering.”
And while doctors take an oath to do no harm, many surgeries and treatments can leave patients with lifelong health problems.
“There are a lot of detrimental impacts,” said Bartkowiak, who also noted the procedures financially benefit hospitals and doctors.
“These surgeries make a lot of money. So, female-to-male chest reconstruction can bring in $40,000. A patient just on routine hormone treatment who I’m only seeing a few times a year can bring in several thousand dollars… It actually makes money for the hospital,” Dr. Shayne Taylor with the Vanderbilt Clinic for Transgender Health is quoted as saying in PA Family’s press release.
Chloe Cole spoke at No Left Turn in Education hosted in March. Cole had gender dysphoria and thought at 12 years old that she wanted to be a boy. The medical profession helped her change her gender and convinced her parents they should agree to it. Doctors then removed her breasts at 15. By the time she turned 18, Cole realized she had made a terrible mistake and wanted to be the gender she was born: Female.
However, she continues to have problems, including skin grafts to her chest that have not properly healed and stunted growth.
Cole is suing the doctors and hospital who treated her but noted she would never get her natural breasts back or be able to breastfeed if she has children, which is uncertain given the hormone blockers she had taken.
Bartkowiak said the state began funding gender treatment in 2015 for children under Dr. Rachel Levine, a transgender woman who was health secretary for Pennsylvania and is now U.S. assistant secretary for health.
Asked why the treatment has increased yearly, Bartkowiak said, “There’s a lot of money to be made.”
There is also a push in schools and social media to “immediately do something” if a child is questioning gender, he said, rather than treating them for mental illness (gender dysphoria) or waiting to see if they will outgrow the phase.
CHOP also sends representatives to schools to talk to teachers and counselors, advising them not to let parents know when their children are questioning their gender, the report noted.
While supporters argue that if children are not “affirmed” in their gender choices, they are at risk for suicide, Bartkowiak said that is not “backed by the data” and that people who have undergone these treatments have “a significant suicide rate.”
Along with CHOP, UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and Penn State Health Children’s Hospital perform these surgeries and receive state funds.
Charlie O’Neill, a spokesman for state Rep. Seth Grove (R-York), who chairs the House appropriations committee, said funding for CHIP is part of the Human Services Department and not a separate line item. CHIP follows the World Professional Association for Transgender Health standard of care guidelines in determining coverage.
A few years ago, a bill by state Rep. Jesse Topper (R-Bedford/Fulton) that would have prevented CHIP from covering “gender-affirming” care failed to gain traction.
Geer said, “This is state-sponsored child mutilation that taxpayers are being forced to fund. Not one penny of funding should be used to advance this type of harmful activity.”