Journalists Are Exhibiting Far Too Much Credulousness Toward Jamie Reed’s Critics
In the eyes of some, two stories “debunked” the whistleblower’s claims last week — but the journalism in question is deeply flawed
I can do reporting like this only because of the paying subscribers who support this newsletter. If you find this work at all useful, please consider becoming one or giving a gift subscription.
This probably goes without saying, but if you have any information about the gender clinic under discussion here, whether positive or negative, please send me an email. Anonymity is guaranteed unless and until we come to a mutual decision otherwise.
In February, Jamie Reed, formerly a case manager at The Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, launched explosive accusations about that clinic via an article in Bari Weiss’s Free Press publication and a sworn affidavit that Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey subsequently published online.
Reed, who sought whistleblower protections under Missouri state law before coming forward, said in her article and affidavit that the clinic’s practices were deeply irresponsible and likely to harm its patients. Many of those patients, she claimed, were quickly shunted to puberty blockers and hormones without the sorts of in-depth assessments that should precede such treatments. Moreover, she argued, patients and their families were denied important information about their potential side effects.
Her affidavit outlined truly outlandish accusations of misconduct:
One patient came to the Center identifying as a “communist, attack helicopter, human, female, maybe non binary.” The child was in very poor mental health and early on reported that they had no idea their gender identity. Rather than treat the child for their serious mental health problems, the Center put the child on cross-sex hormones and ignored the child’s obvious mental health problems. The child subsequently reported that their mental health actually was worsening once they started the cross-sex hormones.
Children come into the clinic using pronouns of inanimate objects like “mushroom,” “rock,” or “helicopter.” Children come into the clinic saying they want hormones because they do not want to be gay. Children come in changing their identities on a day-to-day basis. Children come in under clear pressure by a parent to identify in a way inconsistent with the child’s actual identity. In all these cases, the doctors decide to issue puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones.
“Based on my observation that the Center has prescribed puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones hundreds of times where they should not have,” she argued elsewhere in the affidavit, “the Center is billing private and public insurance for unnecessary procedures.” Reed views the clinic as irredeemable and wants it shut down.
Last Wednesday, two in-depth follow-up stories about this controversy were published, both of them casting doubts on Reed’s claims: “Families dispute whistleblower’s allegations against St. Louis transgender center” in the Missouri Independent, and “Parents push back on allegations against St. Louis transgender center. ‘I’m baffled.” in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. (Unpaywalled archived copy here.)
Reed’s allegations and these follow-up stories were met with exactly the bifurcated response anyone who has followed this debate might expect. To those who are concerned about the rapid rise in referrals to youth gender clinics, as well as the allegedly subpar treatment standards kids and teens receive when they arrive there, this was a game-changing moment: a well-respected, longtime staffer at one of these clinics was arguing, under her own name and in sworn testimony, that care at her clinic had run seriously off the rails. To those who believe that the recent uptick in critical media coverage of this issue represents a contrived right-wing moral panic, and that there’s little to genuinely worry about here, this was a perfect example of just how credulous the concern trolls had gotten — after all, the follow-up stories had clearly debunked Reed’s claims. A tweet from the journalist and author Mark Harris neatly summed up the latter sentiment: “If you read the trans-clinic ‘whistleblower’ story that the trans-hating right wing (and a lot of people who should know better) seized on, you must read this deeply reported, fully sourced story about trans care for kids at that center,” he said, linking to the Post-Dispatch article. “Please share it!”
Nothing in this article is going to conclusively settle the dispute about Jamie Reed’s credibility, let alone the much bigger, more contentious one about youth gender medicine in the United States. But I do want to point out that, contrary to the claims of many observers, including a number of influential journalists, these two articles are in fact deeply flawed, mostly because the authors exhibited insufficient skepticism toward Reed’s critics. In addition, the Post-Dispatch badly misinformed readers about Reed’s role at the clinic. As a result, readers have not been delivered the context and transparency they deserve to better understand this very complicated, slowly unfolding controversy.
There are far too many allegations in these stories to cover them all, and verifying many of them will require both time and access to the patients and parents in question, their children’s medical records, or both. For now, I simply want to draw attention to two major omissions from the coverage so far: the first has to do with Kim Hutton, who is presented by the Post-Dispatch as a “baffled” parent of a patient at The Washington University Transgender Center who fervently disagrees with Reed’s assessment of the Center’s services; the second has to do with Jess Jones, a former staffer who has been quoted bashing Reed at length and expressing confidence in the quality of care delivered by the clinic.
Let’s start with the more journalistically straightforward of these issues: Hutton. Here’s the very top of the Post-Dispatch article:
Explosive allegations made public last month about a St. Louis clinic that treats transgender children have flung parents into a vortex of emotions: shock, confusion, anger, fear.
Kim Hutton, among those confused by the reports, views the treatment her son, now 19, received from Washington University’s Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital as vital to making him the outgoing college freshman he is today.
“The idea that nobody got information, that everybody was pushed toward treatment, is just not true. It’s devastating,” Hutton said. “I’m baffled by it.”
The “baffled” line was compelling enough that it was integrated into the article’s headline. But Colleen Schrappen, the article’s author, doesn’t note that Kim Hutton is the cofounder of TransParent, a group that advocates for trans kids and their access to medical treatment.
That, alone, is poor reporting: as a journalist, of course you should disclose relevant activist ties on the part of any source you quote. If you quote someone saying they’re really concerned about out of control police violence, and you don’t disclose that they have been an active member of Black Lives Matter for five years, that’s bad. If you quote someone saying they are extremely concerned with how little regard liberals have for the lives of unborn babies, and you don’t disclose that they were once a high-ranking member of the National Right to Life Committee, that’s bad. It’s not that activist accounts are inherently untrustworthy, but rather that readers have a right to this sort of information so they can make their own decisions about which sources to trust. If you obscure or fail to turn up these relationships, you are denying your readers information to which they are entitled.
But in this case, the undisclosed conflicts are even more severe: not only is Hutton the cofounder of TransParent, but she actually helped create the very gender center being scrutinized. A savvy tipster, who wanted to remain anonymous, pointed this out to me in an email. TransParent’s History page details close links between Hutton and St. Louis Children’s Hospital going back more than a decade. In a 2018 article in the Ladue News informing readers of 2018’s “Women of Achievement,” the author writes that among her other accomplishments, Hutton “successfully lobbied for the Washington University Transgender Center of Excellence, which opened in 2017.” Hutton herself echoed that claim in a sworn deposition contained in this 2017 legal filing (page 175 in the PDF). The details of the case don’t matter for our purposes, but Hutton testified about someone else having been “well aware that Dr. Abby Hollander was working with me, or that I had approached her about starting a pediatric gender center inside the hospital” (Hollander is a pediatric endocrinologist at St. Louis Children’s).
Again, none of this automatically means that Hutton’s claims about her own child are false. But as someone who literally helped establish the clinic in question, and as a human being, of course she’s not coming at this controversy from a neutral perspective, relying only on what she’s observed about her son’s care. Rather, she likely has myriad close personal and professional ties to the very employees being accused of shoddy work, as well as deep-seated pride in the clinic’s work. It’s just a baffling detail for the Post-Dispatch to leave out. (I sent the Post-Dispatch’s media contact and executive editor detailed questions about what I planned on publishing in this article yesterday afternoon, and told them I’d need to hear back by later that evening if they wanted their response included. They didn’t reply. I also sent a similar note to Annelise Hanshaw, the author of the Missouri Independent story. She sent a brief and courteous reply but didn’t address any of my questions.)
The Jess Jones story is longer and more complicated. Here are excerpts from both of the aforementioned articles presenting some of their claims against Jamie Reed.
Jess Jones, who identifies as nonbinary and uses “they” pronouns, worked at the Transgender Center from 2018 until 2020 as an educational liaison. Jones led trainings at schools and coordinated with teachers, administrators and families to ensure students felt safe.
Jones bristled at the way they said Reed sometimes spoke about patients.
“How passionately she worked as a case manager felt at odds with how she talked about transgender people,” Jones said.
Jones recounted Reed telling them that “misgendering,” or using the wrong gender or pronouns to describe a person, was “exposure therapy” that would keep trans children from being coddled and encourage them to develop a thick skin.
Jones complained about Reed to the center’s directors and human resources and was not the only one to do so, they said. Reed acknowledged in the Free Press narrative that she received a negative performance review in 2021.
Jones quit the educational liaison position the year before that.
“Jamie was the primary reason I left,” said Jones, who now lives out of state. But they still support the mission of the Transgender Center, they said, and do not harbor doubts that protocols are stringently followed or that patients’ mental health is being tended to.
The picture painted by whistleblower Jamie Reed of how patients were treated at the Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital doesn’t match Jess Jones’ experience.
Jones worked alongside Reed for two years as the center’s educational coordinator before resigning in 2020. The allegations of misconduct laid out by Reed — both on a national news website called The Free Press and in an affidavit with the Missouri attorney general’s office — simply don’t match the reality during the time they worked together, Jones said.
“I feel like I could go line by line to her affidavit,” Jones said, “and debunk it all.”
And Jones is not alone.
During the extended conversations we’ve had over the last few days via phone, email, and text messages, Reed vehemently denied just about everything Jones claimed about her here and elsewhere in these articles. (After establishing email contact with Jones, I sent them a detailed email running down what I would be publishing about them and giving them an opportunity to respond to Reed’s claims about them, and where applicable to provide documentation that could potentially debunk those claims. They didn’t respond, and didn’t respond to follow-up nudges. St. Louis Children’s Hospital didn’t respond to a detailed request for comment about aspects of Jones’ tenure, which is unsurprising given the current maelstrom surrounding The Transgender Center and given employers’ more general reluctance to release this sort of information about former employees, some of which tends to stem from concerns about legal liability.)
At the most basic factual level, Reed told me that it was simply false that Jones chose to resign in 2020, let alone that they did so “primarily” because of Reed herself. Rather, she said, Jones was furloughed in April 2020 as the pandemic spiraled out of control, and this seemed to be confirmed by a contemporaneous email Reed provided. “As you may have heard/seen in the news Wash U is currently furloughing about 1300 staff,” Reed wrote on April 22 of that year. “From the trans team thus far we only know that Jess has been a part of that group. We will know more as this week progresses.”
(In my email to Jones that they didn’t respond to, I asked if they could provide any documentation about the circumstances of their departure from the Center.)
Reed said she didn’t know exactly what caused the official, permanent end of the employment relationship, but that based on what she described as Jones’ chronic performance issues, she thought it was very unlikely they would have been asked to come back.
Reed explained that whenever the clinic got a referral from a potential new patient, there was a process in place to make sure the education liaison — Jones, for a period of time — engaged in the necessary follow-up communication to offer the family educational resources, a discussion around any issues they were having with their school or school district, and so forth. Reed said Jones “did not do the necessary follow-up often, or document it,” and that she “was seeing that they were not closing the loop back or documenting in the electronic medical record the work that they were supposed to be doing.” Reed shared a spreadsheet she kept at the time tracking new referrals. The spreadsheet, which has personal information about patients redacted, appears to contain many instances of Jones failing to complete their follow-up duties, as demonstrated in this screenshot of the top of it:
In addition, Reed shared an email she sent on February 10, 2020 which suggested that Sarah Garwood, the codirector and cofounder of the clinic, had asked for information about Jones’ performance issues. “Sarah requested that I share this,” wrote Reed in the email, which included an attached copy of the spreadsheet and which was addressed to Garwood and another member of the clinic.
Reed also ardently denied Jones’ claim that she had encouraged misgendering for the purpose of helping trans kids develop tougher skins. She argued that Jones was badly distorting or misconstruing the one major blowup between the two of them that occurred during Jones’ time at the clinic.
In March of 2019, Reed said, a young patient was in a session with a therapist who was on the clinic’s referral list. The patient, who was nonbinary but who still had a stereotypically feminine name, complained to the therapist that they were being consistently misgendered, called “she” instead of “they.” The therapist responded by saying that one way to lessen the probability of that happening would be to consider adopting a more gender-neutral name. This suggestion badly upset the patient, and their father, also an activist for TransParent, called the Center and demanded they remove the clinician from its referral list.
When word of this reached Jones, said Reed, Jones agreed with the father that the clinic should cut ties with the therapist. Over lunch at a campus cafeteria not long thereafter, Reed expressed her disagreement to Jones; she thought it was a perfectly reasonable suggestion for the therapist to make. According to Reed, Jones lost that battle, since the clinic continued referring patients to the therapist, but it seemed to leave a lasting scar on their ability to work together. “They didn’t work there all that long, and it turned into the hugest, giantest blowup I had ever seen,” recalled Reed. “The nurse and I were the ones at the lunch where I said that therapists should challenge their patients — it is the point of therapy. And ever since that incident, there was never a working relationship with Jess again, and Jess really just saw that as somehow — we just fundamentally disagreed.” Reed said Jones was simply distorting the nature of their disagreement and that she would never intentionally misgender someone (for what it’s worth, I accidentally referred to Jones as “she” a few times during my phone conversations with Reed, and Reed consistently corrected me when I slipped up in this manner).
The Independent also reported that “Jones said Reed had a particular concern with patients’ ability to consent, alleging Reed wanted to make patients take an IQ test prior to accessing puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones.” Reed said that this, too, is a distortion of what she said at the clinic. “There were patients who were documented to be in some kind of special education school, or were known to have some kind of learning disability,” Reed explained. “And part of what I believe is a complete assessment is we are supposed to assess to understand if someone has the competence to assent for that kind of care.” (As this government website explains, minors can’t generally give “informed consent” to participate in research or be administered medical treatment the way adults can, but researchers or clinicians are supposed to obtain their “assent,” meaning the research or treatment in question has been explained to them in terms they understand, and they agree to it. Their parents or guardians, meanwhile, provide informed consent.)
“A child is supposed to provide assent, and in some of those cases I had asked in team meetings if there was that kind of testing completed at the school testing level, because they do that,” Reed explained. That is, if a child has cognitive problems or developmental delays, there is likely some testing on file in their records that the Center could potentially use to help in the assessment process. That cognitive testing didn’t always come in the form of a traditional IQ test, Reed said, but “There were a couple cases where we had IQ data that showed some cognitive delays.” “And again, this is where I would disagree with some of the team,” Reed continued. “If I’m seeing that a child has been found to have cognitive delays or an inability to read or something like that, I do think that requires additional time or assessment to provide real informed assent.”
“The way it’s been reported made it sound like I think trans people need IQ testing,” said Reed. “No! If your child has a delay they should evaluate that as part of the assessment process” prior to the beginning of physical interventions.
The Post-Dispatch article also included these two sentences: “Jones complained about Reed to the center’s directors and human resources and was not the only one to do so, they said. Reed acknowledged in the Free Press narrative that she received a negative performance review in 2021.” While the wording is ambiguous, a reader might think that the negative performance review mentioned in the second sentence was connected to Jones’ complaints mentioned in the first. But Reed insisted her negative performance review had nothing to do with Jones, and in fact said it’s unclear whether Jones had even made a formal complaint about her as she alleged to the paper. If Jones had, Reed said, Reed never heard about it from her superiors.
As the Post-Dispatch article notes, Reed has been open about the fact that she received a negative performance review from the Center. I asked her if she could send me her performance reviews and she emailed me what appears to be every annual one she received while at Washington University in St. Louis, dating back to her days as a case manager working with HIV-positive youth in 2015–2016. They back up her claim that she received a single negative annual review, and that it didn’t appear to have anything to do with Jess Jones, who had long since departed by the time she received it.
In the sole negative review, listed as covering the period 5/1/2020–4/30/2021, Reed’s “Overall Rating” was 1.8 on a scale that ranges from 1.0 (“Needs Improvement”) to 2.0 (“Achieves Expectations”) to 3.0 (“Exceeds Expectations”). “At times Jamie responds poorly to direction from management with defensiveness and hostility,” reads the “Opportunities for Improvement” section, in part. “Compromise is not always reached without significant processing time which diverts time/energy from team.”
All of Reed’s other Overall Ratings were 2.0 or higher (usually close to 2.0), and the comments suggest that when issues arose, later in her tenure, they mostly had to do with perceived problems with her communication style. In the last review she received before leaving the clinic, covering 3/1/2021–3/31/2022, she received an overall 2.0 and the “Opportunities for Improvement” section had a conciliatory tone to it: “Jamie has responded to feedback and we have noted efforts to improve communication style after verbal warning on 2/7/2022.”
“I felt that the negative performance review was because of the questioning of the Center’s care,” Reed said. Among other issues that came up and which prompted the negative review and verbal warning, Reed said that her superiors complained that she was including the clinic’s codirectors in emails challenging certain decisions or calling attention to what she saw as certain problems with the clinic’s approach, and that she sometimes expressed a degree of uncertainty about the clinic’s approach in front of social work students training there. “Essentially we had to keep the disagreements that were going on within the core team mum,” she said, describing the informal feedback she got. “And also I had to stop challenging the doctors.”
“Toward the end I was told that you cannot question their medical decision-making,” she said. I asked her: So your argument is that what you viewed as well-founded disagreements about the clinic’s practices were recast as matters of insubordination warranting discipline? “I might be wrong,” she responded. “I know that people often viewed me as — I got called a lot of male terms. I was too aggressive, I was too loud, I spoke up too much, I always had an opinion. I know that there were those kinds of complaints.”
When Reed sent me her annual reviews, she also included a detailed February 2022 email from Samati Niyomchai, who was then the clinic’s program manager, outlining her disciplinary problems. It doesn’t mention anything in the vicinity of misgendering or treating trans people with disrespect, as Jones claimed, but instead concerns the communication-style issues Reed claims were connected to her qualms about the clinic’s operations.
Of course it’s possible Reed is hiding documents from me — I don’t have access to her full email archives — but everything she did send me was broadly congruent with her claims about her trajectory at the Center, and nothing she sent me lined up with Jones’ claim that complaints had been leveled at Reed relating to her broader problems respecting trans people. (In my email to Jones, I asked them to provide documentation of any complaints they had leveled at Reed.)
Jones Reed a bit: so you maintain you didn’t do anything to merit disciplinary action? “In 2021?. . . Hmmm, no. It was all about tone, and it was all about who you’re asking and why.” Reed also sent me email correspondence suggesting that her disciplinary travails weren’t particularly serious anyway, including an assurance from an administrator that nothing she had done had risen to the more serious level of a so-called “written warning,” as opposed to the “verbal warning” she had received.
In our conversations, Reed also expressed frustration about a subtle divide between how media outlets treated her versus how they treated Jones: as she saw it, Jones was presented as having enough inside information about the clinic’s operations with regard to diagnosis, treatment, and so on, to be granted authority to discuss these subjects in major news articles, whereas Reed’s own qualifications were questioned unfairly.
For instance, the Post-Dispatch reported: “[P]arents interviewed by the Post-Dispatch cast doubt on Reed’s ability to know what happened inside exam rooms as an employee who did not have a medical or managerial role, and whom they rarely saw. The case manager’s job duties, as described in a Washington U. posting, comprise patient intake, scheduling appointments and providing information about community resources to families.”
Reed vehemently disputed the accuracy of this passage. “They cut out the part where it said I was part of the medical multidisciplinary team and where it said I would have a part in helping clarify patients’ gender identity,” she said. Here Reed had receipts. She sent me a 2019 job posting for “Case Worker II,” which is a synonym for “Case Manager” (at least at this clinic) and which matches the job title on her three most recent performance reviews. I’ve posted it here, and if you read it you’ll see that indeed, while the posting does include the more routine administrative and educational duties mentioned by Colleen Schrappen, it also includes other important ones that the Post-Dispatch reporter seems to have simply missed or omitted: “The Case Worker provides services in a welcoming and gender affirming environment.. [sic] The position works as a member of a multidisciplinary team to assist clients as they explore hormonal options for gender affirmation, seek self-acceptance and sometimes clarification of their gender identity.”
The second page of the job posting goes into a bit more detail on this front: This position, it notes, “Provides direct supportive services for the Gender & Adolescent Centers which includes the management of complex medical and behavioral health treatment plans.”
Contrary to what the Post-Dispatch article claimed, insisted Reed, “I was in clinic rooms — I was directly embedded in clinic on Tuesday and Wednesday.” She explained that she was sometimes called in to interact directly with patients, when her skillset and areas of expertise were required, such as “when patients were actively suicidal.” “I was physically in clinic,” she continued. “I was not in every single room every time, but I was in a lot of rooms, often.” Reed said she didn’t work with every patient in this manner, so it could simply be that the paper talked to a handful of parents who hadn’t had firsthand interactions with her in that context, and who had misconstrued her role.
Jess Jones, on the other hand, was treated by both the Post-Dispatch and Independent as having the requisite knowledge to judge the quality of the clinic’s operations. As Schrappen wrote:
“Jamie was the primary reason I left,” said Jones, who now lives out of state. But they still support the mission of the Transgender Center, they said, and do not harbor doubts that protocols are stringently followed or that patients’ mental health is being tended to.
“They have a holistic and comprehensive approach,” Jones said. “This was an initiative that was really trailblazing.”
Writing in The Independent, Annelise Hanshaw exhibited even more confidence in Jones’ ability to assess this aspect of the controversy: “It is true that many patients came in anxious and depressed, whether that was a diagnosis or just symptoms, but from my experience, that was alleviated with the start of gender affirming hormones,” Jones said.
Reed argued that these journalists are getting it exactly backward. Jones’ position as educational liaison did not give them access to the sort of information they would require to be able to accurately assess how well the clinic was functioning in its role helping trans and gender-nonconforming kids and teens. “In order to know that you would have to be tracking GAD-7, PHQ-9, referrals to psychiatry, mental health, medication prescriptions, and work closely with the nurse, who was receiving phone calls and reports from parents,” Reed said via text message, referencing some common psychological instruments used to determine how patients are functioning. This simply wasn’t Jones’ role: they “were not tracking those things like the nurse and I were and they were not present in clinic like the nurse and I were.” Rather, “They rarely if ever came to clinic[;] they were at schools if they were not working from an office.” (I asked Reed if she had or could find a job listing for the educational liaison role, but after searching her email records she said no, and I wasn’t able to turn one up during an admittedly cursory online search, either.)
Reed’s claim that Jones didn’t have a firm grasp of the clinic’s medical and mental health procedures, let alone whether they were alleviating distress in the patients being seen there, seems to be backed up by none other than Jones themself. On the evening of Saturday, November 9, 2019, Reed asked Jones via email to table at a so-called resource fair at a school in the area. Jones included Sarah Garwood, the clinic’s codirector, in the email. Jones responded to both women the next morning: “I am not sure that I am the best person for this event and think it depends on what resources they are wanting for students and families. I am limited in my scope of work and can’t speak to most facets of our care (i.e. medical, mental health, legal, insurance, etc.). I’d also feel uncomfortable speaking with families about student advocacy while tabling at their school.”
Garwood replied to Jones, clarifying that they wouldn’t be expected to provide anything but the most basic information about the clinic’s functions. “It would definitely NOT be a case where you would be providing any specific advice or educational support to parents/kids.”
Jones was furloughed about five and a half months later, according to Reed’s email records. Because neither of the outlets that gave space to Jones’ account appear to have dug into their time at the clinic, nor closely investigated their actual job duties there, neither has explained how it could be the case that they were too unqualified to provide basic information about the clinic’s operations for a school resource fair in 2019, shortly before being furloughed, but are qualified to speak authoritatively about them to major news outlets more than three years later.
There’s still further reason to doubt Jones’ general trustworthiness: according to partially redacted emails supplied by Reed, after Jones left the Center, multiple staffers grew concerned that they appeared to falsely represent themself as still working there.
On Friday, September 18, 2020, five months after Reed says Jones was furloughed, Karen Hamon, whose signature identified her as a Clinical Nurse Coordinator, sent an email to Garwood and Christopher Lewis (cofounder of the clinic and its other codirector then and now), with Reed cc’ed, which read as follows:
It has just been brought to our attention (after [redacted] attended an [Metro Trans Umbrella Group] meeting last night) that Jess Jones may be continuing to work in the schools and directly with some of our patients. I am not sure of the timeline nor is [redacted], but one of the patient’s parents who spoke about “recent help” has nothing in the chart from Jess for quite some time ([redacted]’s mother who attended the hearings in Jeff City).
I know we cannot control their actions, but perhaps we need to let Transparent, counselors, etc. know that Jess is no longer with our center. I know [redacted] called [redacted] a week or two ago to refer someone to Jess as they had no idea that Jess is gone.
A few emails later, on September 20, Reed herself wrote of the importance of notifying local activist groups that Jones was no longer on staff. She mentioned that during a Zoom meeting with “two current Transparent leaders. . . . They had no idea that had happened and they were very clear that Jess was still doing that work and didn’t tell anyone that they were no longer working at Wash U.”
A couple hours later, Garwood said in a reply, “If Jess has found someone to pay them for what they are doing that is their business but it is important they do not attempt to say they represent us.”
Jones is currently self-employed as a consultant and educator on LGBT issues.
Like I said earlier, there are many other claims in these stories that are unresolved, and that I haven’t addressed here. This whole thing is going to take some time to unspool, given how complicated it is, given the fact that the clinic in question faces an existential threat and is therefore likely in full siege mode, given the investigative apparatuses that have now kicked in, and given that parents who want to tell stories about the clinic — good or bad — risk thrusting their vulnerable children into a national spotlight and subjecting their families to almost unfathomable levels of scrutiny from activists and other partisans on all sides of this issue.
I would simply urge some caution in considering Reed’s claims to be anywhere close to debunked on the basis of these two articles. To be fair to the journalists in question, they did reach out to Reed and appear to have only received partial responses, through her attorney. But many of the apparent omissions and errors they committed weren’t due to a lack of access to Reed. Figuring out and properly disclosing that Kim Hutton cofounded TransParent and played an important role in kick-starting the very clinic she is defending is not a high journalistic bar to clear, nor is accurately describing Jamie Reed’s job, nor is doing basic vetting of Jones. On top of all this, neither journalist was aware that the same day Reed’s Free Press article came out, TransParent sent out an email subject-lined “Urgent Action Needed!” asking parents to come forward with positive stories about the clinic — or if they were aware of this, they didn’t disclose it in their stories.
TransParent has every right to do this, and the existence of this email doesn’t inherently call into question the account of parents linked to the organization. But of course this email should affect how we view the fact that most of the parents who have spoken to journalists so far have expressed positive feelings toward the clinic — a point emphasized in both stories. At least some of them are members of an activist group that asked them to do just that!
In short, I simply don’t think that the journalists behind these stories did a careful job. If they were this sloppy on such basic facets of the story, why should we trust that they were any more careful on other parts of it that are harder for outsiders to verify? For example, why should we trust that they asked parents for medical records supporting their claims that their kids were thoroughly assessed and carefully looked after — especially given that at least some of these parents, like Hutton, came from activist backgrounds?
I suspect I’ll have more information to share about all of this soon, including, if all goes well, an article about the kid who allegedly identified as a helicopter later this week.
Questions? Comments? Massive troves of leaked documents that crack the story wide open? I’m at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @jessesingal. The image of St. Louis Children’s Hospital comes via Wikipedia.