Primary Care Institution Prioritizes ‘Gender-Affirming’ Medicine for Children

Projections vary, but the consensus of any number of studies forecasts a significant physician shortage for the United States over the next decade.  A 2020 study predicted a total physician deficit of nearly 140,000 by 2030.  The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) 2021 report on physician supply and demand calculates that the U.S. population rate will grow by 10.8% with a potential shortage of 48,000 primary care doctors by 2034.  “Population growth and aging continue to have the greatest impact on demand growth,” concludes the AAMC.

Public health officials offer various solutions to this problem such as increasing the number of medical schools, recruiting foreign-trained doctors, and advancing telehealth technology.  Some medical schools and training programs pride themselves on primary care physician development, emphasizing programs in rural health and regional healthcare.

One such program is East Carolina University (ECU) and the Brody School of Medicine (BSoM) in North Carolina.  In 2018, 59% of the medical school graduating class at Brody matched in primary care residencies; in 2022, 61% of students matched into primary care.  BSoM graduates the 2nd highest number of physicians entering family practice in the country.  ECU has an Office of Generalist Programs, dedicated to “increasing the number of medical students entering primary care careers.”

The North Carolina General Assembly rewarded ECU’s commitment to primary care by specifying $215 million in funding for ECU’s School of Medicine in the 2021 state budget.  The ECU Chancellor noted the funds were, “a landmark moment for the future of rural health care and medical education [emphasis added] in our state and region.”  This would indicate that ECU’s medical community and the NC taxpayers are doing their part to narrow the projected gap of primary care supply and demand.  So why — only a few months after the $215 million government award — has ECU Medicine started a primary care program to provide sex-change drugs to children?

Last month, the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal reported on ECU’s 2022 faculty convocation:

Cierra Buckman, director of pediatric research at the Brody School of Medicine, followed Kyle’s remarks by opening with her name and pronouns, stating that sharing the latter upon introduction is ‘one of the first steps in the direction of becoming a more inclusive campus.’ Buckman went on to say that, after five years at ECU, she feels that the climate is completely different now than when she started.  Whether or not taxpayers should applaud this metamorphosis was not addressed.

Noting the approval of BSoM dean, Dr. Michael Waldron, Buckman then described a “revolutionary” new health initiative for ECU with the establishment of a “Pride Clinic” in the summer of 2022.  Housed in the internal medicine and pediatric clinic, this primary care clinic delivers LGBTQ+ affirming care not only to adults, but to children as well.  Buckman gave an example of such care:

For adolescents who are struggling with their gender identity having a safe space to talk through that before maybe they’re even ready to disclose to their parents hasn’t always been available.  ECU has chosen to take a very visionary stance and become a home for that kind of care….

ECU will become a medical facility where primary care doctors insert themselves between a parent and child, potentially affirming a minor’s new gender identity without parental knowledge.  Buckman also described plans to expand the program into other specialties.  (Could this include surgery given its role in “gender-affirming care”?)  Medical students and residents will rotate through the gender clinic to incorporate “gender-affirming care” in future primary care practices.

But ECU’s Pride Clinic doesn’t just discuss gender identity with minors outside the sphere of parental influence.  Dr. Colby Dendy, a primary care doctor running the clinic, lists “gender-affirming hormone therapy for both adults and adolescents” as a special service of hers on an ECU medical webpage.  In an interview for The East Carolinian, Dendy confirmed that the clinic provides hormone treatment to a wide range of patients.  According to the article, “Dendy said she believes gender-affirmation care for people of all ages [emphasis added] should be included in primary care [emphasis added].”  

While medical institutions like Stanford, Duke, and Yale have pediatric gender programs or centers, at least they are staffed by pediatric endocrinologists.  Endocrinologists have additional training in diseases of hormone dis-regulation.  Common diseases would be diabetes or growth hormone disorders.  Pediatric endocrinologists also treat disorders of sexual development and pubertal disorders like precocious puberty.

Dr. Denby is not a pediatric endocrinologist.  She completed a medicine/pediatrics primary care residency only two years ago.  She also lacks any published research in pediatric hormone therapy or gender dysphoria.  With the support of ECU, however, she wants to bring controversial and irreversible hormone treatments into the primary care field for adults and children.  A recent exposé by Reuters related the following about hormones for gender dysphoria in kids:

Puberty blockers and sex hormones do not have U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for children’s gender care.  No clinical trials have established their safety for such off-label use. The drugs’ long-term effects on fertility and sexual function remain unclear. And in 2016, the FDA ordered makers of puberty blockers to add a warning about psychiatric problems to the drugs’ label after the agency received several reports of suicidal thoughts in children who were taking them.

Buckman was right.  ECU’s experimental clinic in disrupting the parent-child relationship and providing minors off-label hormone medications with psychiatric side-effects is certainly “revolutionary.”  Inserting “gender-affirming treatments” into primary care normalizes a widespread delivery system of sex-change drugs to minors that could forever alter the fertility, sexual function, and mental health of these children.  No longer will specialty degrees and tertiary care centers be required; ECU will ensure that accessing hormones for a child will be as easy as visiting the family practitioner down the street.

As we have seen in our state school system, North Carolina advertises budgetary funding for a legitimate need, yet the money ultimately supports experimental and radical agendas.  In analyzing physician shortage, the AAMC calculates a 42.4% increased growth in the over-65 population by 2034 compared to a 5.6% growth rate for the under 18 population.  The AAMC designates this as a key demographic finding: “This trend portends high growth in demand for physician specialties that predominantly care for older Americans.”  ECU however, redirects medical students, residents, and financial resources towards a “revolutionary” primary care clinic to change the gender of children.

The solution for these irresponsible actions?  Replace the ECU leaders who approved this program.  ECU alumni need to withhold donations and demand accountability.  Legislators should pass bills like North Carolina’s proposed Youth Health Protection Act, which would protect parental rights while also preventing rogue administration of drugs to children (outside of medically verifiable genetic disorders) that have lifelong effects.  Parents and grandparents should be proactive in asking questions and staying involved in their children’s lives.

Without these measures, the only solution available in stopping the normalized delivery of experimental hormones to children will be the significant shortage of primary care physicians.  Unfortunately, the people who need primary care services the most will have to suffer.

Image: Twitter video screen grab from user @JoshLekach.

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