After just two medical appointments, Luka Hein underwent a double mastectomy at age 16.
Now at age 21, the Minnesota detransitioner is suing her doctors for the rushed procedure, becoming the fifth person in the United States to pursue legal action for hasty ‘gender affirming’ treatment.
In recent months, Chloe Cole, Layla Jane, Prisha Mosley and Soren Aldaco have launched similar lawsuits against the medical professionals entrusted with their care when they were teenagers
Luka Hein’s story is particularly noteworthy.
“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,” Luka told the Daily Mail.
“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,” she contends.
“I was talked into medical intervention that I could not fully understand the long-term impacts and consequences of.”
Luka’s 28-page lawsuit, filed in the District Court of Douglas County in Nebraska this week against four University of Nebraska Medical Center staff, sketches out the remaining storyline.
At age 13, Luka began experiencing mental health problems in the midst of her parents’ tumultuous divorce.
Shuffled between households, she began struggling at school, losing her appetite, suffering from panic attacks, and flirting with self-harm and the idea of suicide.
Luka was soon diagnosed with depression and anxiety and was hospitalised several times for her mental health.
In 2017, she found comfort online in the form of an older man who lived out of state and began grooming her, persuading her to send sexually explicit photos, and issuing threats if she refused.
Though Luka cut contact with the man, the traumatic experience left her feeling extremely uncomfortable with her experience of puberty, specifically her period and her developing breasts.
Following gender influencers online, Luka was soon convinced she was the wrong gender. She began identifying as a male, ordered a chest binder, left her all-girls school, and changed her name.
Luka began wondering if removing her breasts would help with her mental health. She met with doctors in July 2017, who diagnosed her with “gender identity disorder” just 55 minutes into her first session.
According to the papers filed with the court, by October of the same year, Luka was put on hormone treatments and coerced into a double mastectomy. A year later, the surgery took place, and was followed by four years of testosterone treatment.
Now Luka says the collective treatment she underwent have left her with constant pain in her joints, spine, hands, wrists, and elbows, has given her heart irregularities, and may prevent her from experiencing motherhood.
She is suing OB-GYN physician Dr Nahia Amoura, therapist Megan Smith-Sallons, surgeon Dr Perry Johnson, and Dr Stephan Barrientos, who assisted in the surgery.
Her suit alleges that each of the defendants were “negligent in failing to question Luka’s self-diagnosis, instead ‘affirming’ her toward irreversible chemical and surgical solutions”. It argues the medical centre staff should have noticed the red flags in Luka’s case, including her mental health, her family turmoil, and the online abuse she suffered.
“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,” according to the lawsuit.
Luka is being represented by the Center for American Liberty, the same non-profit that has taken on the cases of Chloe Cole and Layla Jane.
Luka’s story shines the spotlight on the detransitioning phenomenon, long shrugged off as an aberration in mainstream discourse, but that will not go away anytime soon.
According to a recent review published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 30 percent of teens and young adults had discontinued “gender-affirming” hormones after four years. Another Journal of Adolescent Health article published this year found that 29 percent of youth changed their requests over time for hormone treatment or surgery.
It is now too late for Luka to make such a change. But through her story — and her lawsuit — she might just help change a few more minds.
Kurt Mahlburg is a writer and author, and an emerging Australian voice on culture and the Christian faith. He has a passion for both the philosophical and the personal, drawing on his background as a graduate architect, a primary school teacher, a missionary, and a young adult pastor. His article is first published here