Dr. Anthony Fauci will deliver the May commencement address at Washington University School of Medicine, whose youth transgender center is under investigation for abuse and malpractice.
Missouri attorney general Andrew Bailey's (R.) investigation into the Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children's Hospital came after whistleblower Jamie Reed, a former case worker at the center, filed an affidavit alleging that the center rushed to give children harmful hormone treatments, ignored the serious mental health needs of patients, and bullied parents into giving consent. A week after Reed published her exposé, the school announced that the White House's former COVID czar would address its graduates in May.
"The idea that an institute of supposedly higher education would bring in an individual that is probably more famous for misleading people than anything else is, I think, atrocious," Missouri secretary of state Jay Ashcroft (R.) said of Fauci. "It's not that he's polarizing. It's that he's a proven liar."
Fauci faces continued criticism for his handling of the pandemic as director of the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. A recent report by the NIH's inspector general found that Fauci's team made egregious errors in overseeing coronavirus research in Wuhan, China. Republican lawmakers also accused Fauci of lying to Congress after he denied his agency funded research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
"For a research medical school where you assume everyone is smart, [Washington University] is politically stupid and leadership has no common sense," Missouri-based political consultant James Harris tweeted Friday. "Horrible timing. Horrible speaker."
In the university's announcement last Thursday, Washington executive vice chancellor for medical affairs Dr. David Perlmutter said Fauci is "the quintessential role model for physician-scientists and exemplifies all the virtues that science has contributed to improving health in our society."
"We are honored that he will share his wisdom with our school and our graduates on this special day," Perlmutter said.
"I'll take 'out-of-touch bubble of academia' for $500, Alex," Sen. Eric Schmitt (R., Mo.) tweeted in response.
Last week, leaders at the university's transgender center rejected Bailey's call for a moratorium on puberty blockers and hormone treatments for new patients, though they insisted they would cooperate with the investigation.