Exploring Social Contagion at the Washington University Transgender Center

Jamie Reed worked as a case manager at The Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children's Hospital for four years between 2018 and November 2022.[0] Reed, who identifies as a queer woman married to a transgender man, spoke recently about her experiences at the clinic.[0]

Reed wrote that the doctors she worked with frequently said “We are building the plane while we are flying it,” in reference to the treatment of their patients.[1] She also noted that many patients at the clinic declared they had disorders they did not have, such as Tourette syndrome, tic disorders, and multiple personalities.[2]

The doctors at the clinic recognized that some of these false self-diagnoses may have been a manifestation of social contagion and even acknowledged that suicide has an element of social contagion.[2] However, when Reed suggested that the gender issues of some of the patients may have been a manifestation of social contagion, the doctors said gender identity reflected something innate.[2]

Reed wrote that teenagers are not capable of fully grasping what it means to make the decision to become infertile while still a minor, especially given that clinics like the one where she worked are creating a whole cohort of kids with atypical genitals – and most of these teens haven’t even had sex yet.[0] She recounted how one of these patients became pregnant, but of course, she would never be able to breastfeed her child.[2]

0. “‘I want my breasts back': Former transgender clinic employee remembers the horrors of the ‘gender-affirming care' she …” Heartlander News, 9 Feb. 2023, https://heartlandernews.com/2023/02/09/i-want-my-breasts-back-former-transgender-clinic-employee-remembers-the-horrors-of-the-gender-affirming-care-she-once-believed-in/

1. “Trans clinic worker blows whistle on ‘appalling' harm being done to children” Daily Mail, 9 Feb. 2023, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11732559/Trans-clinic-worker-blows-whistle-appalling-harm-children.html

2. “‘We are permanently harming’ kids: University gender clinic whistleblower” The College Fix, 9 Feb. 2023, https://www.thecollegefix.com/bulletin-board/we-are-permanently-harming-kids-university-gender-clinic-whistleblower/