The recording, made by Libs or TikTok founder Chaya Raichik, possesses two operators at the renowned medical facility in DC which states – in response to Raichik’s questions – that a 16-year-old trans boy would be eligible for a hysterectomy at the hospital’s gender development clinic. Children’s has not disputed the authenticity of the recording, but said the staff provided incorrect information.
“None of the people secretly admitted by this activist group are providing care to our patients,” said hospital spokeswoman Ariana Ahmadi Perez. “We have never and have never performed gender-confirming hysterectomies on anyone under the age of 18.”
Such statements have not dispelled the furore that Raichik unleashed on Thursday. Right-wing media, including Fox News and the Daily Caller, ran stories based on the misinformation in the phone calls. A subtitled video of the recording had been viewed more than 800,000 times on Twitter Friday night.
Upon a request for comment on this story, Raichik agreed to an interview, on the condition that she was allowed to record it. This story will be updated with her comments once that interview has taken place.
The Children’s investigation comes just weeks after Libs or TikTok similarly targeted Boston Children’s Hospital for its transgender care. In that case, the account highlighted a video made by the hospital that discussed “sex-confirming hysterectomies.”
Libs of TikTok claimed the surgery was performed on “young girls,” although Boston Children officials said the procedure is not available to those under 18. Despite its name, Boston Hospital, like Children’s National in DC, treats patients through young adulthood. Boston Children’s officials also said their providers were the target of threats and intimidation after Libs or TikTok drew attention to their programs.
FAQ: What you need to know about transgender children
The uproar over transgender care in children’s hospitals comes as lawmakers in many states seek to curtail LGBTQ rights in classrooms and on athletic fields. From Florida to Kentucky, conservatives are trying to limit discussion of gender in schools and bar participation by trans athletes in youth sports, with many on the right arguing unfounded that gay and trans educators try to “groom” and sexually abuse children. In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott told the Department of Family Protection and Services to investigate parents who provide gender-affirming care to their transgender children. That order is being challenged in the courts.
Hysterectomy — the removal of the uterus, cervix, and fallopian tubes, sometimes accompanied by removal of the ovaries — can be performed in addition to mastectomy (often called top surgery by transgender doctors and advocacy groups) for people transitioning. But the procedure is almost never offered to children, experts said, and current standards of care published by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health state that the surgery should not be performed on minors.
dr. Loren Schechter, director of gender-confirming surgery at Rush University in Chicago and a member of the association’s executive committee, said he could recall only one gender-confirming hysterectomy on a minor in 23 years of practice. In that case, he said, the patient was a 17-year-old who had been in treatment for years and had been repeatedly advised by doctors to delay surgery.
“These are considered decisions, and they are complex decisions,” Schechter said. “The thought of people being pushed or rushed into surgical procedures is just ridiculous.”
Still, Children’s National officials admit that some information provided by the hospital has added to public confusion. Before Thursday, the hospital’s website erroneously stated that gender-confirming hysterectomy was available for patients “ages 0-21,” an error that has been corrected, Perez said.
And in Raichik’s recording, two hospital workers answering the phones unequivocally declare that an underage patient can have a gender-confirming hysterectomy.
“It depends. Every ward is different. Some wards drop out at 6 p.m.,” said an operator in response to Raichik’s question about whether a minor is eligible for the operation. “How old is your patient? “
“Sixteen,” Raichik says.
“Okay,” the operator replies. “Agreed. So they are free.”
After confirming over the phone with a second person that a 16-year-old is eligible for a gender-confirming hysterectomy, Raichik asks if it’s “a common procedure you guys do for that age.”
“Yes, we all have different age groups for that”, responds the hospital employee.
“Before the hysterectomy?” asks Raichik.
‘Yes, ma’am’, the employee says and later adds that she has seen ‘younger children, younger than your child’s age’, undergo the operation.
The hospital’s website was temporarily down on Thursday evening. Officials said they are investigating what went wrong and it was not yet clear whether the outage was related to the fuss over gender concerns.
Raichik – a former real estate salesman who operated under various online pseudonyms – has amassed 1.3 million followers with posts eager to fuel the country’s culture wars, with a particular focus on LGBTQ issues. Her past goals have included schools and Pride events, said Ari Drennen, LGBTQ program director for Media Matters of America.
The new focus on children’s hospitals is particularly concerning, Drrennen said, raising the potential for violence and harassment targeting families seeking medical care.
“I think most people should agree that health care decisions aren’t best made by angry internet mobs,” Drrennen said.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Raichik had not responded to a request for comment. The Post was unaware that she had responded via Twitter before the story was published.
Taylor Lorenz contributed to this report.