On 31 March 1997, anesthesiologist and “autogynephilia” activist Anne Lawrence examined an unconscious Ethiopian patient’s vagina for signs of ritual genital modification during a surgical procedure. A colleague reported that Lawrence “has been having bizarre behavior for a while,” according to Roberta Angela Dee, who first broke the story. Lawrence resigned prior to a full investigation.
Below is full text and a scan of the case summary outlining the incident that occurred at Swedish Health Services in Seattle. The State of Washington Department of Health maintained a 58-page file on the incident, as Case No: 97-05-0042MD.
According to self-reports, Lawrence’s erotic interest surrounding medically-constructed vaginas and genital modification drove Lawrence to undergo genital modification in 1996. Lawrence’s inability to be accepted by coworkers and patients culminated in a forced resignation in 1997, after a March 31 incident where Lawrence examined an unconscious Ethiopian patient’s vagina for signs of genital modification. The record shows that Lawrence refused to believe a peer who told Lawrence several times that the Ethiopian patient did not have ritualized genital modification. Lawrence then digitally examined the unconscious patient personally after the gynecologic surgeon left the room.
Though the case was closed without any disciplinary action taken, by Lawrence’s own admission and eyewitness reports, the incident that prompted the investigation did occur. Following the incident, Lawrence became a sexologist specializing in “paraphilic” body modification via surgery. Given Lawrence’s extensive subsequent writings on genital modification as a type of erotic interest, it appears that Lawrence’s allegedly “scientific” papers were in fact an exercise in identity politics, an attempt to appropriate the term “transsexual” in order to make Lawrence’s erotic interests appear more socially desirable. Prior to Lawrence’s efforts, such people were usually classified in clinical literature as “non-transsexual” or “pseudotranssexual,” and less formally as “pretenders” or “wannabes.”
Initial Review Panel
INITIAL REVIEW PANEL
Case Number: 97-05-0042MD
Date: 09/17/97 12:06 PM
Presented by: James H. Smith
Respondent: Lawrence, Anne A., M.D.
Complainant: Swedish Health Services
The Respondent: Board Certified in Anesthesiology, DOB 11/17/50, licensed since 77
The Complainant: Swedish Health Services
The Complaint: NPDB Adverse Action Report
Case Review: Swedish Health Services reports that after an incident involving the respondent’s professional conduct occurred, she resigned from the medical staff. Reports and statements were obtained from the hospital which indicate that the respondent, who was the attending anesthesiologist, performed a genital exam on an anesthetized patient. The patient from Ethiopia was placed in a low-lithotomy position. The circulating nurse noted that the patient was already shaved. The respondent came around the end of the table and asked if the patient had her genitalia altered. The GYN responded “No.” The respondent asked “Are you sure that she has not been circumcised?” The GYN responded “She has not.” R states “She looks like she had something done, she doesn’t look right.” The GYN replied “It probably looks different because she shaved herself, which may be a cultural thing.” The respondent replied “I still think she has something done” to which the GYN replied “No, its just aging.” The GYN then left the OR to scrub. The respondent then put on an exam glove and checked the patient’s genitals. The respondent states “Oh, there is her clit, I guess she is OK.” and then returned to the head of the bed.
The respondent, both in a letter to the hospital and to the Commission, admits to a serious lapse in judgment. She indicates that she had no bad intentions; no desire to harm, to degrade, or exploit. The respondent decided to resign rather than face the possibility that the incident could become public and have adverse affects on her young children, the reputation of the hospital, the privacy of the patient, and on her professionally.
Some background is relevant. The respondent has practiced anesthesiology in Seattle for nearly 20 years without problem.
[… approxinately 4 lines of text possibly edited …]
Prior Cases: None
Hoff adverse action report (1997)
Judith “Judi” Irene Hoff (April 3, 1945 – May 4, 2016) was a hospital administrator who worked at Ballard Hospital (later renamed Swedish Hospital) from 1979 to 2004. She was serving as Director, Medical Staff Services in 1997 when an incident involving Anne Lawrence occurred.
Adverse Action Report
19 May 1997
Processed Jun 05 1997
An incident involving the physician’s professional conduct occurred which led to her resignation from the Medical staff of Swedish Medical Center. The incident involved an examination of a patient by the physician without the patient’s consent.
Judith I. Hoff, Director, Medical Staff Services
May 19, 1997
The scans below are the best available copy from Washington State’s Health Professions Quality Assurance Commission and are in approximate chronological order. Areas in white appear to be emendations made in the dossier at the request of Lawrence and/or Lawrence’s lawyers.
State of Washington Department of Health, Health Professions Quality Assurance Commission (1997). Anne Lawrence investigation. (PDF)
State of Washington Department of Health. Anne Lawrence medical license record (PDF)