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UW Health boasts ‘gender affirmation surgery’ for kids

By M.D. Kittle 

Empower Wisconsin | Sept. 27, 2022    Updated at 11:38 am 

MADISON — UW Health’s Dr. Katherine Gast (cisgender, pronouns: she/her) specializes in “gender affirmation surgery,” according to hospital information. Dr. Gast will “operate on minors with parental consent.”

That bit of concerning information was first noted by Libs of TikTok, the conservative Twitter account that has exposed the worst of the far left.

Libs of TikTok last week tweeted that UW Health advertises a gender program which offers a range of gender services for children, including puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgeries.

According to an online post, “Dr. Katherine Gast, MD is a fellowship-trained plastic surgeon who specializes in Gender Affirmation Surgery for transfemine individuals.” She performs “Vaginoplasty, Facial Feminization Surgery, Breast Augmentation and Body Sculpting.” The doctor also performs “Body Masculinization and Phalloplasty.”

Gast, who was listed as the medical director of the UW Health Comprehensive Gender Services Program, also has served as an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. But a lot of information involving Dr. Gast and her program seems to have disappeared overnight.

Gast’s info page on the Department of Surgery was no longer found on Monday. But she has had much to say about gender reassignment at UW Health in recent years.

“Now the standard of care is doing puberty blockers which are completely safe, completely reversible,” Gast said in a video interview, among others now hidden from public viewing. “[It] just turns the kid into basically a late bloomer, and you give the kid more time and the parents more time to figure things out.”

“At age 15, 16-ish, then you can start cross hormone treatment if the kid wants. And if for whatever reason the kid changes their mind or things change, you can just stop taking the puberty blockers and the kid goes through puberty normally and grows normally and no harm done.”

An Oct. 26, 2021 UW Department of Surgery story welcoming Jasmine Peters, (Underrepresented in Surgery Scholarship recipient) notes Peters work with Gast.

“Peters hadn’t considered gender affirmation as part of her career, but that changed after working with Katherine Gast, MD, MS, on a vaginoplasty and admiring Dr. Gast’s foresight and efficiency,” the story states.

UW Health spokeswoman Sara Benzel says UW Health is not publicly funded. But Dr. Gast did draw a salary of $51,524.52 in 2021 from UW-Madison for her professorial work, according to a University of Wisconsin System Compensation database published by Madison.com.

“UW Health fully supports our expert providers and staff who provide patient-centered and evidence-based gender services care and our patients who identify as LGBTQ+,” Benzel said in an email to Empower Wisconsin.

She later added that UW Health’s gender services program follows all evidence-based guidelines.

“We do not perform genital procedures on minors in our gender services program. Chest masculinization is considered only in select cases and only after careful multidisciplinary evaluation, long-term engagement in mental health care and consent from all legal guardians,” Benzel said.

State Sen. Mary Felzkowski said conducting gender reassignments on minors — with or without parental consent — is “horrific.”

“It’s mutilation,” the Tomahawk Republican said. “You are born how you are born. I think this is child abuse.”

Felzkowski said such surgeries should be outlawed until an individual reaches 21 and can make an informed decision. She said she’s more concerned about the impact “gender affirmation” procedures will have on children than the direct or indirect impact on taxpayers.

“The fact that a parent would allow their child to go through this, I’m struggling with that,” the senator said.

UW Health is not alone in pushing gender affirmation surgeries for minors. Children’s Wisconsin in Milwaukee boasts a Gender Health Clinic that offers a “multidisciplinary” focus on “children and youth seeking assistance with gender identity development and transition concerns.”

“Our skilled staff will meet with new patients through age 16 on an individual basis for comprehensive evaluations, mental health consultations and education,” the website states.  “Our services also include puberty-suppressing hormone therapy, gender-affirming hormone therapy, surgical treatments, and speech/voice training. Furthermore, we can provide children and adolescents with connections to other resources and support within Children’s Wisconsin and the community.”

And Children’s Wisconsin offers pediatric plastic surgeries.

“These physicians provide surgical consultation to patients and their families. When appropriate, they may perform ‘top’ surgery to re-construct the patients’ chests to match their gender identity,” the hospital notes.

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