Assistant Secretary for Health Rachel Levine said in an interview released Friday that there is no medical debate about whether children who claim they are transgender should receive “gender-affirming” care.
In an interview with NPR, Levine, the first openly-transgender individual in American history to serve in a Senate-confirmed position, said that the medical industry has reached a consensus on the value of gender-affirming care for transgender children. Levine made the remarks ahead of a speech in Texas Saturday, which was aimed at encouraging training physicians to promote that care to young transgender people.
“There is no argument among medical professionals – pediatricians, pediatric endocrinologists, adolescent medicine physicians, adolescent psychiatrists, psychologists, etc. – about the value and the importance of gender-affirming care,” Levine said when asked about a new fact sheet published by the Florida Department of Health advising against gender-affirming care for kids.
Gender-affirming care is a euphemism for treatments to facilitate the gender transition of an individual, such as the prescription of puberty blockers, hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery. Those treatments can leave a child sterile in adulthood and otherwise interfere with normal sexual development in the event they lose the desire to identify as their non-birth sex, which up to 80% of gender-questioning youth do, according to a study cited by Florida’s health department in its fact sheet.
Levine also said that bills trying to curb the promotion of LGBT material in schools — such as Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill — were an attack on LGBT youth. (RELATED: Transgender Biden Admin Official Named One Of USA Today’s ‘Women Of The Year’)
“I think that they’re all related in terms of their political motivation, and trying to stigmatize a vulnerable community — and particularly to stigmatize LGBTQ+ youth,” Levine said. “One of the most vulnerable groups of young people are LGBTQI+ youth, and particularly – the focus of many of these issues – trans youth. We need to affirm them. We need to empower them because they are at risk, and they have a very high rate of suicidal thought and we have to act to prevent them from harming themselves.”
Levine faced criticism during their confirmation process for supporting gender transition for kids. Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul asked Levine if they supported gender transition for kids, and Levine would not directly answer the question. Paul said “we should be outraged” that anyone is talking about kids as young as three being transgender.