Medical students at Georgetown University have been taught that the only way to help patients suffering from gender dysphoria is to “fix” their bodies through drug therapies and gender-transition surgeries, a claim that contradicts Catholic teaching on human sexuality, according to an investigation by The Spectator.
The news outlet cited information drawn from lecture slides from a course taught last year and a description of a clinical rotation course in a course catalog.
Georgetown, a Catholic university, did not respond to requests for comment from either The Spectator or CNA.
In a required first-year Human Sexuality course, guest lecturer Dr. David S. Reitman told students that for many “trans” patients suffering from gender dysphoria, “the only way to help them is to ‘fix’ their bodies,” according to one of the lecture slides obtained by The Spectator.
Reitman is a pediatrician for Georgetown University Hospital, where he also teaches medical students as an associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics. He also runs American University’s student health center and established the LGBT Health Initiative for George Washington University. Georgetown, American, and George Washington universities are all located in Washington, D.C.
To “fix” children with gender dysphoria, Reitman suggested “blocking puberty” with drugs or using what he describes as “medically necessary” hormone treatments that masculinize or feminize a patient depending on his or her desired gender identity, according to the lecture slides.
CNA spoke to a former Georgetown University medical student on the condition of anonymity who took Reitman’s course and objected to some of his claims.
“There are a lot of unnecessary risks added to an otherwise physically healthy child if hormone treatments are started,” the former student said, referring to peer-reviewed studies that point to physiologic risks associated with hormone treatments.
“Some of the adverse effects are irreversible [and] dangerous,” the former student added. “The bottom line is that the approach to physical treatments is simply incongruent with the psychiatric diagnosis.”
Reitman did not respond to CNA’s request for comment.
The Spectator report also highlighted one of Georgetown’s elective courses called Sexual and Gender Minority Health, a clinical rotation at Whitman-Walker Health in Washington, D.C. A description of the course in a course catalog says that medical students “will work with a multidisciplinary team [and] be exposed to a diverse array of topics pertinent to providing high-quality care to LGBT individuals” including “gender affirming hormonal therapy.”
Leading young people into ‘falsehoods’
As The Spectator reported, Reitman also advocates for the use of puberty blockers, feminizing and masculinizing hormone treatments, and irreversible sex-transition surgeries that pose serious risks, including so-called “bottom surgeries.”
According to lecture slides obtained by The Spectator, Reitman admits that puberty blockers have negative side effects including weakening bone density, reduced height, and altering secondary sex characteristics, such as hair and breast development.
On one slide, however, the words “completely reversible” are superimposed over a list of pros and cons.
Such a claim contradicts the personal experiences of those who have been put on puberty blockers, such as “former trans kid” Chloe Cole. In September, Cole told CNA that she still experiences the side effects of going on puberty blockers.
Cole was put on puberty blockers and testosterone at just 13 years old. She continues to experience joint pain from weakened bone density — a known side effect of puberty blockers — as well as certain allergies and ongoing urinary tract infection symptoms, even though she’s been off of puberty blockers for several years.
Dr. Michelle Cretella, a Catholic pediatrician and the past executive director of the American College of Pediatricians, was sharply critical of the courses’ content. She said the medical school is “complicit in the chemical castration and sterilization of children, for this is exactly what so-called transgender medical and surgical interventions do to all who undergo them.”
Cretella is also a board member of Advocates Protecting Children, which offers many resources for parents and the lay public to learn the truth about transgenderism.
“Chemical castration, sterilization, and bodily mutilation are not health care,” she added. “In fact, the package inserts for puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones warn that — far from preventing suicide — they commonly cause the emotional distress that precedes suicidal despair.”
As Reuters reported this month, “Puberty blockers and sex hormones do not have U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for children’s gender care. No clinical trials have established their safety for such off-label use. The drugs’ long-term effects on fertility and sexual function remain unclear.”
In 2016, the FDA ordered companies that make puberty blockers to add warning labels about the drugs’ potential to cause psychiatric problems after receiving numerous reports about children becoming suicidal after taking them. More warnings followed in 2022 about puberty blockers and the risks of brain disorders, impaired vision, and more.
Reuters also reported that the National Institutes of Health states that “the evidence is limited” on the short and long-term health risks of puberty blockers, especially for concerns about fertility and cognitive development.
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Georgetown University was founded by Jesuits of the Loyola order in 1789 and remains largely operated by members of the Society of Jesus.
Patrick Reilly, president of The Cardinal Newman Society, a nonprofit that defends faithful Catholic education, also criticized Georgetown.
“Georgetown has repeatedly violated its mission as a Catholic university. There is no true Catholic education that directly opposes the beauty of humans created by God as male and female,” Reilly told CNA.
“When prominent Catholic universities teach against truth, with no apparent consequence but increasingly blatant dissent, and lead young people into falsehood and horrific sins, the whole Church is gravely wounded,” he said.
Edie Heipel is the Political Correspondent for CNA's Washington, D.C. bureau. She previously worked in communications for Center for Renewing America, served in the Trump White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and has been a contributor to various outlets including The Federalist and The Charlotte Lozier Institute. She is a graduate of Wheaton College.