Beginning in the 1960s, there was a massive effort to shut down state psychiatric institutions in which people with mild to severe mental illnesses were housed. The reckless treatments and abuse these patients experienced in these facilities were well documented: They were more often than not put on sedatives and antipsychotic medicines that turned them into mindless zombies, and those who tried to resist risked being lobotomized.

Though there is much debate over whether abandoning these institutions altogether was really the right solution, there is no question at all that the form of “care” provided by asylums was abominable and that it did immense harm to the medical industry’s reputation, to say nothing of the patients who were forced to undergo it.

There is no difference in my mind between insane asylums of the past and today’s “gender clinics,” where impressionable and confused children are being sterilized and mutilated routinely. Young children are walking into these clinics — there are more than 100 across the country — with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and sometimes nothing more than a desire to fit in and walking out with permanently altered bodies, severe medical complications, and mental despair.

A whistleblower who worked inside one of these gender clinics documented its abuses in a piece for the Free Press. Jamie Reed worked as a case manager for the Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri for several years. She’s been a liberal all her life and is married to a woman who identifies as a man. But what she saw in Missouri’s gender clinic was so revolting, so horrifying, that she is now advocating a moratorium on all “gender-affirming” care for confused minors.

Reed said that most of the children who came through the clinic had other comorbidities, such as autism or ADHD, and that they rarely fit the bill for diagnosable gender dysphoria. Instead, they seemed to be enthralled with the idea of transgenderism because of its supposed social benefits.

Yet the doctors at the clinic refused to admit that this sudden surge in gender confusion among young adolescents, most of whom were girls, was part of a social contagion. They put hundreds of patients on hormonal treatments and recommended many for surgical procedures without fully vetting the patients’ mental or physical health. In fact, all it took to get a prescription for puberty blockers in this clinic was a note from a therapist that the patient was required to see once or twice, Reed said.

The physical consequences of the clinic’s chemical treatments are truly horrifying to read. Infertility is just one possible side effect. Others include permanently distorted sexual features, vaginal tearing, sleep apnea, diabetes, and cholesterol and blood pressure abnormalities. One of the patients, for example, experienced liver toxicity after being put on Bicalutamide, a medication used to treat metastatic prostate cancer. Another young patient had to undergo emergency surgery to repair the vaginal canal after it had torn open during intercourse. She had been on testosterone, which thins vaginal tissue.

Testosterone distorts other vaginal features as well. Many girls discovered that being on the hormone enlarged their clitoris so that it looked like a small penis. Reed said she counseled one girl whose clitoris had grown so large that it extended past her vulva to wear compression underwear designed for men.

These treatments were also used on children who had not displayed a single sign of gender confusion but suffered from other various mental illnesses, such as PTSD or schizophrenia. One boy, for example, had severe obsessive-compulsive disorder and wanted to cut off his penis after he masturbated. He had never once questioned his gender, yet doctors at the clinic put him on estrogen. Reed wrote, “I wondered if this was being done as a form of chemical castration.”

Indeed. Just as the mentally ill were numbed and lobotomized, confused children are being turned into permanent patients and having their brains and bodies permanently distorted in today’s gender clinics. There is no justification for these houses of horrors. They serve no purpose other than to line the pockets of the hospitals that stand to benefit financially from the repetitive, costly treatments.

They must be shut down — permanently. And the doctors and medical professionals who participated in the chemical castration and physical mutilation of children must be stripped of their licenses and prohibited from stepping foot near a medical facility ever again.