Assistant Secretary for Health Rachel Levine stated in an NPR interview released on Friday that there is no medical debate about whether children who claim they are transgender should receive “gender-affirming” care.
Levine, who is the first openly transgender person in American history to serve in a Senate-confirmed position, said that the medical community had reached an agreement on the value of gender-affirming care for transgender children. Levine made the remarks ahead of a speech in Texas aimed at encouraging physicians to promote such care.
“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 questioned about a fact sheet published by the Florida Department of Health advising against gender-affirming care for kids.
Gender-affirming care refers to treatments that facilitate the gender transition of an individual, such as puberty blockers, hormone therapy, or sex-reassignment surgery. Such treatments can leave a child sterile in adulthood and otherwise interfere with normal sexual development should a child later choose not to identify as their non-birth sex.
According to a study by Florida’s health department 80% of gender-questioning youth eventually decide to identify with their birth sex.
Levine also argued that bills trying to stop the promotion of LGBT material in schools — such as Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill — were an attack on LGBT youth.
“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 the confirmation process for supporting gender transition in children. When Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul asked if Levine supported gender transition for kids, Levine would not give a direct answer. Paul said “we should be outraged” that anyone is talking about kids as young as three being transgender.