FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A prominent gender-reassignment surgeon resigned from a University of Miami clinic after he was accused of posting photos of patients' genitalia with racist and homophobic comments on Instagram, but he denied making the comments and said Thursday that the account was hacked.
Dr. Christopher Salgado also told The Associated Press that he planned to continue his efforts to support transgender people and provide surgery for them.
The Miami Herald on Wednesday published what it said was an anonymous petition to the American College of Surgeons alleging that the University of Miami Health System surgeon posted graphic photos of male and female genitalia in various stages of surgery, along with hashtags seen as racist and homophobic, on his personal Instagram account @sexsurgeon. The account has since been deleted.
American College of Surgeons spokesman Dan Hamilton said in a statement that the college had not received such a petition and that Salgado is not even a member. He is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, according to its website. The organization did not respond to an email Thursday.
The alleged petition described the hashtags that appeared with the photos as "horrifically inappropriate," and questioned whether Salgado violated patient privacy laws.
"Transgender patients are an incredibly vulnerable population as it relates to seeking medical care," the petition said. "We experience violence, neglect, misgendering, sexual assault, and more. To see a surgeon who claims to specialize in treating transgender patients using racist, homophobic, and transphobic hashtags ... is beyond unacceptable."
Salgado, a 50-year-old section chief for the hospital's LGBTQ Center for Wellness, Gender and Sexual Health, told the AP in an email Thursday that he had posted various photos of gender-reassignment patients' genitalia and that all of the patients had given their consent. But he said the hashtags, which "I had never seen in my life," were added by someone who had hacked his account. Salgado said the petition was sent by a patient with gender dysphoria who was going through a difficult time in life.
Salgado said he loves the transgender population and has spent years caring for them.
"I apologize to any person for hurting their feelings as this began as educational," Salgado wrote in his email. "I have dedicated the past nine years to the care of this patient population and will not let this detract from my love for them."
Salgado said he was not fired but resigned from his position. He sent the AP a photo of an email that he said was from the department chair accepting his resignation in February. A statement in the email read, "Please note that we cannot determine whether you have been hacked as we were just about to start the investigation of this matter."
University of Miami hospital spokeswoman Lisa Worley said in a statement that Salgado is no longer employed there. She declined to offer further details.
"The University of Miami is committed to promoting and supporting diversity in its students, faculty, and staff and finds any transphobic comments unacceptable," Worley wrote. "As health care providers, we continue to have a team of experts dedicated to delivering the full continuum of care for gender reassignment patients."
Salgado was featured on an episode of "I am Jazz," a television show on the TLC network featuring South Florida transgender teen Jazz Jennings. The network and Jennings' publicist both declined comment in emails to the AP.
The Florida Department of Health said in an email Thursday that it cannot comment publicly on whether it has opened an investigation.
This story has been edited to correct the name of the organization to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.