Woman who transitioned to male at 16 during ‘chaotic time’ sues Drs who gave her double mastectomy
( NYPost )
A Minnesota woman who has decided to de-transition from a transgender male is suing the doctors who performed a double mastectomy on her when she was just 16.
Luka Hein, now 21, claims she was going through a tough time emotionally as a teenager, when her parents were getting divorced and when she was being groomed online by a man from another state.
As she struggled with her mental health during this time, she said she found influencers online who extolled the virtues of breast surgery and hormones.
Hein then met with staff members at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, who she claims coerced her into undergoing “top” surgery and started her on hormone treatments.
She says the surgery and treatments left her in constant pain and may have robbed her of the chance of becoming a mother.
“I was going through the darkest and most chaotic time in my life, and instead of being given the help I needed, these doctors affirmed that chaos into reality,” she told the Daily Mail.
She added that she should not have been able to consent to the surgery and treatments, as she was still a minor.
“I don’t think kids can ever consent to having full bodily functions taken away at a young age before they even know what that means,” Hein said.
“I was talked into medical intervention that I could not fully understand the long-term impacts and consequences of.”
Hein is now seeking financial compensation from the medical center and “accountability for the fact that these [doctors] put me through this,” she said.
The 28-page complaint, filed in the District Court of Douglas County, Nebraska on Wednesday, lists Dr. Nahia Amoura, an OB-GYN physician; Megan Smith-Sallons, an “affirming therapist” at the gender clinic, Dr. Perry Johnson, who performed the “top” surgery; and Dr. Stephan Barrientos, who assisted in the surgery, as defendants.
It claims they were each “negligent in failing to question Luka’s self-diagnosis, instead ‘affirming’ her toward irreversible chemical and surgical solutions.”
The University of Nebraska Medical Center declined to comment, citing pending litigation.
According to the suit, Hein began experiencing mental health problems in 2015 when the then 13-year-old’s parents were getting a divorce and she was forced to split her time between two households.
She began to struggle in school and suffered from anxiety and panic attacks, the suit claims.
Hein soon lost her appetite, started self-harming, and talked about committing suicide.
She was diagnosed with depression and generalized anxiety disorder and was hospitalized several times for her mental health in the years that followed.
By 2017, Hein sought comfort online — where she was allegedly groomed by an unidentified older man who lived out of state.
He persuaded her to send him sexually explicit photos, the lawsuit says, and when she refused to send him any more, he threatened her.
Fearing for her safety, Hein contacted local law enforcement and was repeatedly questioned about the incident.
Meanwhile, as she started to go through puberty, Hein became extremely uncomfortable with her developing breasts and her period.
Traumatized by her online encounter, the lawsuit says, Hein started to wonder whether it would be better to have no breasts at all.
She then began exploring issues of gender identity online and followed trans influencers until she became convinced she was the wrong gender.
Hein started to identify as male, ordered a chest binder, transferred out of an all-girl school, and changed her name.
Because of what she read online, the suit claims, Hein thought that having her breasts removed might help her mental state and met with the doctors at the clinic — who, the suit says, made a “snap” diagnosis of gender identity disorder after just 55 minutes into her initial session in July 2017.
This “fails to meet the standard of care for the proper evaluation of gender identity disorder,” the suit argues, saying the quickness of the diagnosis created a “feedback system that manipulates patients like Luka to [undergo] deeper and more damaging levels of transgender medical intervention.”
By that October, Smith-Sallons referred Hein to the gender clinic for a double mastectomy.
The therapist recorded in her notes that Hein felt overwhelmed by the ongoing custody issues she faced, felt lonely at her new school, and had “anxiety around starting her period as well as chest dysphoria,” the suit says.
“Rather than counsel Luka through these difficulties, Megan Smith-Sallons referred her to the gender clinic for ‘top surgery,’” it reads.
Hein then met with Dr. Johnson and Dr. Amoura to discuss the option, but in the official medical record, the suit claims, that Amoura wrote she was meeting with Hein for an “endocrine disorder.”
“This was fake. Luka’s endocrine system was functioning perfectly,” the suit says.
“Defendant Amoura’s plan to disrupt the healthy functioning of Luka’s endocrine system in order to ‘treat’ a mental health disorder was not reasonable and fell below the standard of care for an OB-GYN physician,” the suit claims.
It also argues that the doctors should have noticed there were several red flags about Hein’s gender dysphoria claims, including her past mental health hospitalizations, her online encounter with an older man, and the family pressures she was facing.
“This litany of psycho-social factors should have caused a reasonably prudent plastic surgeon to not perform a double mastectomy on such a troubled teenage patient,” the suit argues.
Instead, it says, Dr. Johnson told Hein’s parents she would likely commit suicide if she did not have the procedure — even though she had not had suicidal ideation in nearly a year before the surgery.
“Doctors should not behave to vulnerable children or families in this manner, period,” attorney Harmeet Dhillon, from the Center for American Liberty, told the Daily Mail.
“Doctors should not be mutilating and permanently disfiguring children, period, without some medical necessity, which did not present itself in this case.”
The Post has reached out to Dr. Amoura, Dr. Johnson, Dr. Barrientos and Smith-Sallons.
Hein ultimately underwent the irreversible procedure on July 26, 2018, when she was just 16 years old and “incapable of consenting,” the lawsuit says.
She then went on to take testosterone for four years, and Dr. Amoura even recommended she undergo a hysterectomy at one point — but her parents objected and she never had the procedure.
Still, the lawsuit says, Hein was left with pain in her joints, lumbar spine, hands, wrists, elbows, and pelvic area, and is having “heart irregularities” due to the hormone therapy.
“By the time she stopped, Luka had deteriorated physically and mentally to the point that on many days she could not function or even get out of bed,” the suit says.
Hein finally told Dr. Amoura in January that she was de-transitioning, but Amoura allegedly told her she should seek mental health counseling.
She reportedly told the now-young adult, “I guess this is just part of your gender journey.”