The claim: Boston Children’s Hospital is offering ‘gender reaffirming hysterectomies’ for young girls
Boston Children’s Hospital is home to the country’s first pediatric and adolescent transgender health program, according to the Associated Press. After sharing an informational YouTube video explaining the program’s surgical options for transgender patients, the hospital was inundated with threats of violence and online harassment.
Several social media users began spreading misinformation regarding one of the video’s topics in particular.
An Aug. 11 Facebook post shared by Libs of TikTok shows Dr. Frances Grimstad, a gynecologist at the hospital, discussing what the hospital calls a “gender affirming hysterectomy” procedure.
“Boston Children’s Hospital is now offering ‘gender affirming hysterectomies’ for young girls, and it gets much worse,” reads the post’s caption. The post then links to an article published by the Post Millennial titled, “Boston Children’s Hospital gleefully encourages surgical, pharmaceutical ‘gender transition’ for teens.”
The post accumulated more than 10,000 views in a week on Libs of TikTok, a well-known social media account that the Washington Post says regularly targets members of the LGBTQ+ community and utilizes “incendiary framing designed to generate outrage.” Similar viral iterations have been shared on Facebook and Twitter.
But the claim is false.
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The hospital’s website states that gender affirmation surgeries are only offered for those 18 years and older, not young children. It also explains the various steps that must be taken prior to being eligible for surgery, including living as the desired gender for a year.
USA TODAY reached out to the user who shared the post for comment, and they provided no evidence supporting the reference to “young girls.”
A patient must be 18 years old for hysterectomy as part of transgender care
A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. It eliminates the possibility of pregnancy and menstrual periods.
The video of Grimstad explaining hysterectomies was quickly removed after Boston Children’s Hospital began receiving a high volume of online criticism.
Contrary to the Facebook post’s caption, however, Grimstad made no mention of performing hysterectomies on young girls in the video.
At issue is Boston Children’s Hospital’s Gender Multispecialty Service, which offers care for those three to 25 years old. The Post Millennial article claims a source from Boston Children’s Hospital said the age for gender reaffirming surgeries is flexible.
This is not true, the hospital says.
“The article and the online attention that followed was based on the incorrect statement that Boston Children’s performs hysterectomies on minors in connection with transgender care,” the hospital said in an Aug. 16 statement published on Twitter. “For a hysterectomy performed as part of gender-affirming care, Boston Children’s requires a patient to be capable of consenting for themselves.”
The statement added, “Age 18 is used to reflect the standard age of majority for medical decision-making. Boston Children’s does not – and will not – perform a hysterectomy as part of a gender-affirming care on a patient under the age of 18.”
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The center’s website says in addition to being 18 years old, the transitioning person must have letters of recommendation from a doctor, a therapist and a mental health professional familiar with the desired surgery. These three letters must express that the person has lived in their desired gender identity for at least 12 months, there has been an assessment of support systems and they have displayed ‘persistent, well documented, gender dysphoria.'”
The website also says, “Surgery is never the first step in a gender transition. It is something that happens after you have already explored social and medical transition options. People who choose to undergo surgery usually do so after taking other steps in the gender affirmation process, such as taking supplemental hormones.”
The only gender affirmation surgery available for teens under 18 is chest reconstruction, which is available for 15-years-olds with their parents’ consent.
Boston Childen’s Hospital’s Center for Surgery follows the World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s Standard of Care. These standards recommend psychological, family and social interventions before any type of physical intervention. Irreversible reconstructive surgery is considered the final option.
“Genital surgery should not be carried out until (i) patients reach the legal age of majority in a given country, and (ii) patients have lived continuously for at least 12 months in the gender role that is congruent with their gender identity,” the standard says.
Our rating: False
Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that Boston Children’s Hospital is offering “gender reaffirming hysterectomies” for young girls. The hospital’s Center for Gender Surgery website says its gender reassignment surgeries are only offered for those 18 years and older, not young children. It also explains the various steps that must be taken prior to being eligible for surgery, including living as the desired gender for at least a year.
Our fact-check sources:
- Libs of TikTok, accessed Aug. 16, Facebook page
- Libs of TikTok, accessed Aug. 16, Twitter profile
- The Washington Post, April 19, Meet the woman behind Libs of TikTok, secretly fueling the right’s outrage machine
- The Post Millennial, Aug. 10, Boston Children’s Hospital gleefully encourages surgical, pharmaceutical ‘gender transition’ for teens
- Associated Press, Aug. 17, Children’s hospitals harassed, threatened over gender-affirming care programs
- Boston Children’s Hospital, accessed Aug. 16, Gender Multispecialty Service (GeMS)
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, January 2021, Hysterectomy
- Boston Children’s Hospital, accessed Aug. 16, Center for Gender Surgery Eligibility for Surgery
- Boston Children’s Hospital, accessed Aug. 16, Chest Reconstruction Eligibility Requirements
- Boston Children’s Hospital, accessed Aug. 16, Center for Gender Surgery For Health Care Professionals
- The World Professional Association for Transgender Health, 2012, Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People
- Boston’s Children’s Hospital, Aug. 16, Tweet
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