Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy was joined on the newsmaker line by Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson, who is calling for Vanderbilt Medical Center to cease all irreversible pediatric transgender surgeries until the Tennessee General Assembly convenes in January to complete investigations and propose legislation.
Leahy: We are joined on our newsmaker line right now, our good friend, State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson. Good morning, Jack.
Johnson: Good morning, Michael and Clint. Good to be with you guys this morning.
Leahy: Well, thanks, Jack. And I know you’re very busy. Yesterday, Jack, you met with Matt Walsh. And Matt Walsh uncovered this very controversial video of a couple of doctors at Vanderbilt’s gender clinic who said transgender surgeries are good because they make money for the hospital.
And then another doctor said, if you don’t want to do these surgeries, you can leave if you’re a conscientious objector. The question is, what did you meet with Matt Walsh about, and what will you and, I guess, House Majority Leader William Lamberth do? What is your plan to address the controversy here?
Johnson: Michael, I tell you that you’re right. You summed it up very well. There are three issues. Number one is that we have a prominent medical facility in Middle Tennessee that is performing irreversible mutilation surgeries on children ages 13, 14, and 15 years old.
Now, I don’t know about you, Michael, when I was that age, I did not have the maturity level to be making decisions about my body and making decisions about irreversible procedures to be done to my body, and that it shouldn’t be allowed. Furthermore, the great reporting by Matt Walsh and The Daily Wire – Vanderbilt openly acknowledged, or at least an employee from Vanderbilt openly acknowledged, that they’re doing this because they make a lot of money at it.
Now, I don’t know about you, but when I go to see a doctor, I don’t want the doctor thinking about how can I make the most money out of Jack here? I want the doctor to think about how to make Jack better.
And I think that’s how most people would feel about it. And then the third and final thing is, they said, and if you have a religious or a conscientious objection to participating in these types of procedures, there will be consequences.
If you don’t go along with what we’re doing here at Vanderbilt, maybe you shouldn’t work at Vanderbilt. So all around, Michael, it’s a lot of really bad news. You’re right. We met with Matt and his team.
This has been a conversation that has been ongoing. But thankfully, due to this great reporting, I think we’re in a position now where we can look seriously about making this type of irreversible surgery performed on a minor a prohibited medical practice.
That’s the legal term. And we have other prohibited medical practices in the state of Tennessee. But I think that’s the direction we’re headed.
Leahy: Yes, that makes a lot of sense to me. Now, I was more than a little stunned to see they actually call it, from what I can tell, a pediatric transgender clinic that’s been around for some time.
Just the idea that a child under the age of 18 would have this kind of life-changing genital mutilation surgery seems to me to be highly reckless. Your thoughts, Senator Johnson?
Johnson: I couldn’t agree with you more. The fact that there is even a place, and I don’t have the name exactly right, but something along the lines of a pediatric transgender surgery center. Well, hang on – just the title of the facility would give me great pause.
And again look, Michael, we have had conversations, we have many times, about parental rights and the rights of parents to be able to make decisions for their children. And I support that. I’m all about parental rights.
But I think we need to have a serious conversation about a parent who would be willing to make some type of life-altering decision about their child’s body at such a tender age.
Now, Michael, if you turn 18 on your 18th birthday, that’s the age of maturity in the state of Tennessee, we recognize you as a legal adult, and you want to go get a tattoo or a piercing or you want to have a piece of your body removed or reconstructed, that’s your business. But I don’t think that we need to be doing this with children, people that are under the age of 18.
Leahy: Yes. And it’s very interesting to see the way the Left is reporting it all. The Daily Beast and the Gannett-owned, a little outlet called The Tennessean here in town, they call this “gender-affirming surgery.” I mean, this is gender-altering surgery, and it’s kind of crazy.
There’s a federal law out there that makes it illegal to perform female mutilation for kids under the age of 18. But the little caveat there is it says this is illegal if it’s for non-medical reasons.
Is Vanderbilt going to argue that performing genital mutilation on a 14-year-old boy or 14-year-old girl is for medical purposes?
Johnson: I wouldn’t put it past the woke left, the radical left, including some that are in the medical profession, to try to make that argument. And I’ve been asked this already. I’m glad you brought it up. We passed legislation in Tennessee already dealing with puberty blockers.
These are drugs that delay the onset of puberty. And there are medical reasons why doctors use this that are legitimate medical reasons, I acknowledge. But to do that because of gender dysphoria or gender confusion on the part of an adolescent or prepubescent child, these drugs have lasting effects.
So whether it’s mutilating surgery, which I would submit that it does violate the federal law that you reference, or if it’s administering drugs to delay the onset of puberty, is a violation of laws that we’ve already passed. And we do have our folks looking into that to see if, in fact, Vanderbilt has not already violated either federal or state law.
Leahy: Now, when do you anticipate hearings on proposed legislation that I think is pending and being developed that would prohibit this kind of genital mutilation of boys and girls under the age of 18 anywhere in the state of Tennessee, making it a “prohibited medical procedure.” Lay out the timeline of this as it’s developing.
Johnson: Well, it often happens with a particular issue in the legislature. What is happening now is awareness has been heightened. This is because of your reporting and other media outlets. Obviously, the great work done by Matt Walsh and his team at The Daily Wire. People are aware of this.
Again, we’ve been having this conversation in the Tennessee General Assembly, trying to figure out a way to deal with this. Having this type of exposure is very helpful because people will be engaged.
As you know Governor Bill Lee, has called for an investigation. And I’ve not had an opportunity yet to speak with the governor and his team. I hope to do so today or tomorrow to get an idea of what their plans are in terms of an investigation.
And in the meantime, my colleagues and I in the general assembly who are passionate about this issue, you’re right, we will begin working on legislation. That legislation may be influenced by the investigation that is conducted by the administrative branch of the executive branch of government and Governor Bill Lee’s office.
But we will start crafting and working on legislation. In the meantime, you know what is a good idea for Vanderbilt to do – Vanderbilt Medical Center? It’s just to stop this, to put it on pause until we can come together and come up with a solution, legislatively or otherwise.
And I call on Vanderbilt to stop performing these irreversible procedures on children until the general assembly can convene … in January and figure out what type of action we believe we should take next.
Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Background Photo “Vanderbilt University” by Stablenode. CC BY-SA 4.0.