The Human Rights Campaign’s Healthcare Equality Index, bankrolled by Pfizer, is changing our medical care
It was 2019 when Beth Rempe, then a nurse at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., first noticed the change.
Doctors were wearing pins sporting the transgender flag. Nurses were asking children, most with no history of gender dysphoria, for their preferred pronouns, which were entered into an electronic record system and documented on white boards outside their rooms. More patients were on puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, especially young girls. And the top-ranked hospital was telling staff that people could change gender based on their “mood,” according to slides from a mandatory training reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon.
The training, which was offered as recently as January, included a primer on “zi/hir” pronouns and used a “gender unicorn” to illustrate the “spectrum” of “other gender(s).”
By 2022, Rempe said, Children’s National was requiring staffers to use a patient’s preferred pronouns, no questions asked, even as European medical authorities were backing away from that practice, warning that on-demand gender affirmation could entrench dysphoria rather than reduce it, particularly in children. Worried the policy did more harm than good, Rempe asked for an exemption, which the hospital denied. She quit in early 2022.
“I was concerned that I would eventually have to administer puberty blockers and hormones, not just use the pronouns,” Rempe told the Free Beacon. “I kept finding myself in situations I wasn’t comfortable with ethically.”
Since her departure, Rempe has struggled to make sense of what happened to the hospital where she spent 16 years of her professional life. Was there a common thread behind the transgender flag pins, the pronouns, the puberty blockers, and the trainings and policies that enforced the new culture?
As it turns out, there is an outside force pushing hospitals in this direction.
The Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index became a flashpoint last month when commentators posited that the scorecard was behind Bud Light’s decision to air an advertisement featuring the transgender TikTok personality Dylan Mulvaney. Well, it has a sibling.
Meet the Healthcare Equality Index, the Human Rights Campaign’s scorecard for hospitals that purports to measure the “equity and inclusion of their LGBTQ+ patients.” The index, which uses a 100 point scale, is funded by Pfizer and PhRMA, the trade association that lobbies on behalf of large pharmaceutical companies. And, Rempe noticed, it awards points for all of the policies Children’s National implemented.
To earn a perfect score, hospitals must display LGBT symbols, solicit and use patients’ preferred pronouns, and conduct trainings on LGBT issues approved by the Human Rights Campaign, according to the scoring criteria. They must also provide the same treatments for gender dysphoria that they provide for other medical conditions—meaning a hospital that uses puberty blockers to treat precocious puberty cannot withhold the drugs from children who say they’re transgender. And though the index does not mention medical conscience exemptions explicitly, it does penalize hospitals for allowing “discriminatory treatment that is in conflict with their non-discrimination policy.”
Over 2,200 health systems, including dozens of children’s hospitals, have been rated by the index. In 2022, Children’s National earned a perfect score.
The Human Rights Campaign is a private entity, and its ratings carry no official weight. But as countries around the world pump the brakes on pediatric transition, critics say that the index—bankrolled by the very companies that produce and profit off puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones—is encouraging the sort of no-guardrails approach that has made U.S. gender medicine an international outlier. The scorecard has helped powerful lobbyists seed their ideology across American hospitals, becoming de facto regulators of health care.
A spokesperson for PhRMA, Brian Newell, downplayed its role in the index, saying the trade association was “not involved in the development” of the scoring criteria. “Our work with the [Human Rights Campaign] has primarily focused on issues impacting patient access and affordability, including for those with HIV,” Newell said.
Pfizer did not respond to a request for comment.
The most coercive part of the index is its “Responsible Citizenship” deduction. Hospitals can lose as many as 25 points for any behavior the Human Rights Campaign deems “discriminatory,” an expansive category that includes statements made by hospital doctors and policies that restrict access to gender medicine, including puberty blockers.
Last year, for example, the Human Rights Campaign deducted points from two Texas hospitals, UT Southwestern Medical Center and Children’s Health in Dallas, because they stopped using puberty blockers to treat gender dysphoria but continued to use them to treat precocious puberty—the blockers’ original purpose.
That “amounts to discrimination against transgender youth,” the Human Rights Campaign argued in a press release…
Read the rest HERE.