U.S. Department of Health and Human Services assistant secretary Rachel Levine, a biological male who identifies as transgender, said that pediatric sex-change procedures have support at "the highest levels" of the Biden administration and is "optimistic" that it will soon be normalized.
Levine praised pediatric "gender affirming care," a euphemism for puberty blockers, hormone injections, and sex-change surgeries, at the Pediatric Grand Rounds session at Children's Medical Center in Hartford, Conn. Children's Medical Center invited Levine to speak about the political implications of sex-change surgery taking place at children’s hospitals, Fox News reported.
"I can say that you, the children that you serve, the young people that you serve, their families, and you all have support at the highest levels of the federal government," Levine said. "President Biden supports you. I as the Assistant Secretary for Health will support you and I talk about this topic, everywhere I go, to get the word out."
"I think the next two years are going to be challenging," Levine continued, "but I am positive and optimistic and hopeful that the wheel will turn after that and that this issue won't be as politically and socially such a minefield."
Levine's words come as numerous medical professionals and lawmakers are raising concerns about these transgender treatments given to children. Last week, Florida became the 8th state to ban the procedures, with 23 other states considering similar legislation.
"We’ve talked to doctors, we’ve received testimony from both sides of this issue, and the overwhelming data does not support" the use of puberty blockers and hormone therapy, Dr. Hector Vila, a member of Florida's Board of Medicine, said at a public hearing in February. "What the board has sought to do is to protect our children from therapies that have been shown to create irreversible harm."
In response to Levine's comments, Rep. Andy Harris (R., Md.), a member of the House Doctors Caucus and co-chair of the Pro-Life Caucus, said that it's "reprehensible for a government official—let alone the Assistant U.S. Secretary of HHS—to promote the genital mutilation of minors as becoming a standard practice in the U.S."
"Many pediatricians, particularly pediatric endocrinologists, have expressed serious concerns about the use of puberty blockers, hormone blockers, and sex transition surgeries in minors," Harris continued. "These doctors know that these medications and procedures can impact children’s bone growth, fertility, and risk of breast and prostate cancer. Meanwhile, HHS has pressured providers to provide this care or else face discrimination lawsuits. We must protect our children."
Missouri's attorney general is currently investigating a pediatric transgender center for "egregious abuses and potential malpractice regarding minors." The state, along with Sen. Josh Hawley (R.), launched the investigation in February after a whistleblower reported numerous stories of "morally and medically appalling" practices.
In late February, an 18-year-old detransitioned woman announced she is suing the hospital that facilitated her sex change as a child, the first official lawsuit of its kind in the United States.
President Joe Biden in an interview last week criticized Florida's new protections, calling the ban "close to sinful."
"I mean it's just terrible what they're doing," Biden said.