FOR FREE PEOPLE

Mark Pincus: Biden Is Even Riskier Than Trump

FOR FREE PEOPLE

Tamara Pietzke at home in Tacoma, Washington. (Portrait by David Ryder for The Free Press)

‘I Was Fired After Blowing the Whistle’

Tamara Pietzke exposed the dangers of ‘gender-affirming care’ for minors. Then, she lost her job. She reveals the cost of speaking out—and why she has no regrets.

Just two and a half weeks ago, The Free Press published the story of Tamara Pietzke, who said she had been pressured in her job as a therapist to approve all teen gender transitions. Tamara is the third whistleblower—alongside Jamie Reed and Riittakerttu Kaltiala—to speak out in our pages about their fears that the medical treatment of minors with gender dysphoria is harming a generation of youths. 

When her story came out, Tamara had left her job at one of Washington State’s biggest hospital systems and was just three weeks into her new one. Days later, her boss called and asked for her resignation. Tamara was given no reason for the termination. 

We spoke with both Tamara and Jamie Reed, who left her job at The Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital before her own account was published one year ago. Here, they talk to The Free Press about the potential costs of blowing the whistle—and why, despite it all, they don’t regret speaking out.

Tamara, what happened after your story published in The Free Press? 

Tamara: The day my story published, I texted my new employer about it to give her a heads up. She eventually acknowledged that she got my message, but she didn’t really respond to it. 

When I was hired, I agreed to do neurofeedback in addition to counseling, even though counseling is what I love. But last Thursday, she called me at 7 at night and told me she wanted a full-time neurofeedback practitioner. When I offered to do neurofeedback full-time, she said I wasn’t right for the position.

The next day, she sent me an email acknowledging my resignation. I drafted a response saying that I wanted to clarify that I did not resign. She hasn’t responded since. 

She didn’t mention anything about the story you published? 

Tamara: No, she didn’t say that’s why she was firing me. It just seemed like she completely went back on what she told me my job would be when she hired me, so my conclusion is that publicly sharing my opinions about youth gender medicine had something to do with it. 

Jamie: I think Tamara’s employer is smart enough not to directly acknowledge the reason for letting her go. But I think it’s probably related to the story. 

Regardless of whether your article had anything to do with your firing, do you regret speaking out? 

Tamara: No. I’m sad and exhausted and angry, but I think it’s important for people to speak out who have the kind of concerns I have about youth gender medicine. Because if there’s a chance that we’re hurting kids, then how can I not? 

I’m a single mother of three and I do have my children to take care of, but what gives me the courage to speak up is I also care about the children who are coming to therapists thinking that they’re going to be helped and they’re not. Because once a young person says that they are experiencing gender dysphoria, the actual therapy stops. Somebody has to advocate for them, regardless of the costs. 

Jamie, what about you? What gave you the courage to speak out? 

Jamie: It was the ethical, right thing to do. I saw medical harm happening to patients who were also children. And I had exhausted all internal avenues of bringing attention to it and seeking help for those wronged. So the only thing I had left to do was to speak out.

What has happened in the year since you first blew the whistle? 

Jamie: It has been a whirlwind. 

I have had so many positive experiences. The number of left, Democrat, LGBT individuals who are opposed to pediatric gender medicine is astonishing. If you just read the liberal mainstream media, you would think that everyone who asks questions or has concerns about this are wearing Trump hats. The reality is that this is a conversation that is being had across the political spectrum, across generations, across so many areas of American public life. 

I’ve had the honor of giving keynote speeches around the country. Going public has allowed me to do some of the work that I always set out to do in life, which was to help young people who have gender distress and to help my community—I’m a gay woman. I’ve been doing that this past year. 

I have also met whistleblowers around the world, including from the Tavistock clinic in England. A group of us had dinner in Finland, and it was so cathartic to feel the camaraderie and support. 

Yet it hasn’t all been easy. I’ve had some friendships end. I’ve also had some negative interactions on the Washington University campus, where I am still employed, but in a very different role. I was kicked out of an LGBT open event on campus. I was told by the organizers that “We know who you are, and you are not welcome here.”

But overall, this has been a very positive experience for my life and something that I have no regrets doing. 

Tamara, what lies ahead for you? 

Tamara: I am leaning toward private practice, whether that’s opening my own practice or joining one that is aware of my article and supports my desire to do careful, open-ended therapy for young people distressed about gender and other issues. My heart wants to help parents and kids who are going through all of this because, my gosh, the need for this is so great and parents don’t know where to turn. If I can provide that service, it would be so gratifying.

Jamie, tell us about your new nonprofit, The LGBT Courage Coalition

Jamie: After my story was published, I was inundated with contacts from the LGBT community—individuals who reached out and shared their stories of being silenced at work for asking basic evidence-based questions—just as Tamara described in her story. We also talked about how the big LGBT organizations have been some of the loudest voices trying to shut down any questioning of youth transition. 

We started meeting and decided to create a coalition to bring back the idea of free speech in the LGBT community. 

Now we have a team of 25 dedicated to making the LGBT Courage Coalition happen, starting with a Substack. We are trying to model what difficult conversations look like. We don’t agree on everything, but we do agree that there is a serious need for debate around the effectiveness and the continuing use of medical procedures for kids who are experiencing gender issues. 

We also decided that a good place for our advocacy would be in supporting other whistleblowers, people like Tamara. 

What is your advice for people thinking about blowing the whistle, whether it’s in pediatric gender medicine or another field? 

Jamie: It’s best to get legal advice before you do anything. If anybody’s interested, they can contact the LGBT Courage Coalition at our website and we will help link you directly to a pro bono attorney to walk you through your case.

Tamara: I think it’s easier to answer that question if I ask myself what would I tell the “me” of a few months ago. I would tell that person to keep doing your research—including reaching out to people like Jamie. 

I would also tell the “me” of a few months ago that no matter what fallout there is from speaking out, you’re not going to regret standing up for these children. Even if the people in your life don’t understand, or your employer doesn’t understand, there are other people who will have your back. 

Anyone wishing to support Tamara and her family as she looks for a new job can visit https://www.givesendgo.com/whistleblowerTamara

To support more conversation on the most vital topics of the moment, become a Free Press subscriber today:

Subscribe now

our Comments

Use common sense here: disagree, debate, but don't be a .

the fp logo
comment bg

Welcome to The FP Community!

Our comments are an editorial product for our readers to have smart, thoughtful conversations and debates — the sort we need more of in America today. The sort of debate we love.   

We have standards in our comments section just as we do in our journalism. If you’re being a jerk, we might delete that one. And if you’re being a jerk for a long time, we might remove you from the comments section. 

Common Sense was our original name, so please use some when posting. Here are some guidelines:

  • We have a simple rule for all Free Press staff: act online the way you act in real life. We think that’s a good rule for everyone.
  • We drop an occasional F-bomb ourselves, but try to keep your profanities in check. We’re proud to have Free Press readers of every age, and we want to model good behavior for them. (Hello to Intern Julia!)
  • Speaking of obscenities, don’t hurl them at each other. Harassment, threats, and derogatory comments that derail productive conversation are a hard no.
  • Criticizing and wrestling with what you read here is great. Our rule of thumb is that smart people debate ideas, dumb people debate identity. So keep it classy. 
  • Don’t spam, solicit, or advertise here. Submit your recommendations to tips@thefp.com if you really think our audience needs to hear about it.
Close Guidelines

Latest