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Michael Hobbes

Michael Hobbes

Mar 12
14 tweets

If you’re confused about why everyone is shouting about HIPAA today, here’s a thread to explain. Last month, a whistleblower came forward with allegations that a St. Louis gender clinic was rushing kids through transition without assessment…

Her account included a number of implausible claims. She misrepresented the side effects of medications and said children ‘routinely’ transitioned without parental consent. She also said a child identifying as a helicopter was put on hormones.…
“I identify as an attack helicopter” is an infamous right-wing meme. Plus, despite years of concern-trolling media, there is no evidence that large numbers of children are transitioning without assessment. There isn’t even a single confirmed case.…
Nonetheless, numerous national pundits amplified her account. Jon Chait said similar allegations have been proven in the UK (this is not true). Jesse Singal said it was implausible that someone would lie in a sworn affidavit…
A few weeks later, local outlets reported that they had spoken to more than 20 parents of kids treated at the gender clinic. None reported rushed assessments. In all that time, zero parents have come forward to confirm the whistleblower’s claims.…
Rather than wait for more information to come out, the pundits bizarrely doubled down. Singal wrote a post attempting to discredit the local reporting, saying that one of the parents’ ties to a pro-trans activist organization weren’t disclosed.…
He then doubled down on the “helicopter” claim, contacting the whistleblower for more information. It turns out the patient didn’t “come to the center” identifying as a helicopter. The phrase appeared in a referral letter from an outside therapist.…
The whistleblower knew this because she and another staffer were keeping a “red flag” list of patients they believed wrongly received transition care. Her bosses at the clinic learned about the list last year and told her to delete it. She refused.
Eventually she quit but kept the list. As she shopped her story around to media & politicians, she shared a redacted version. When Singal published her account on Friday, people pointed out that accessing, retaining and sharing this info may constitute a HIPAA violation.
I’ll leave the legal analysis to experts but I do want to point out the structure of what happened here. In her original account, the whistleblower claimed that kids were put on hormones without any professionals assessing whether they were "really" trans or just mentally ill.
When pressed for details, however, it turns out that the patient was - assessed by a therapist and referred for hormones - assessed again by an endocrinologist - monitored by a nurse practitioner who expressed concern about their mental health.
It seems clear, at least to me, this child did not genuinely believe they were a helicopter. This episode is far more revealing of a “whistleblower” willing to exaggerate and leave out key details than a clinic firehosing hormones at children regardless of their condition.
It’s also revealing of journalists so desperate to believe that children are transitioning without assessment that they will overlook unethical and possibly illegal behavior — as well as evidence that refutes their core claim.
And all to win a little twitter beef
Michael Hobbes

Michael Hobbes

Currently @MaintenancePod and @IfBooksPod. Formerly @YoureWrongAbout, @HuffPost, @Highline. Solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.
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