Rachel Levine Says Bans on Child Sex Changes Are 'Regressive’

Transgender Biden official says opposition to child sex changes are all about politics

Secretary Rachel Levine (L) and White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre (R)
June 29, 2023

Biden administration health official Rachel Levine said on Thursday that state laws prohibiting sex changes for children are "regressive."

In an interview with the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart, the transgender assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services said that "regressive laws and actions that have been promulgated throughout the country" restricting sex change treatments for children were being enacted "specifically for political and ideological purposes."

Levine said any restrictions on sex change treatments available for children are "challenging for health equity for the LGBTQI+ community," particularly harming "transgender youth, their families, and even their providers who are under siege in many parts of this country."

Levine made the comments at a Post event focused on "Health Equity," which comes in the wake of several endorsements of child sex changes from the Biden administration in recent days. Earlier this week, Levine deemed such treatments "mental health care" and called for a "summer of pride." At the White House’s June 10 pride celebration, President Joe Biden promised "new funding for programs that help families support and affirm their kids."

Though Levine lamented new laws restricting sex change treatments for minors, specifically those that were blocked by federal judges in Tennessee and Kentucky Wednesday, the secretary also reported sensing greater acceptance of sex change procedures.

"I see these young people and their families, and I meet their doctors who are having such struggles, but I sense a change," Levine said. "I sense a positive change that I think is going to continue despite the challenges that we face."

"I think, with Pride Month just finishing up this week, that we are going to continue to change that narrative and continue to make progress," Levine added, reiterating previous calls for a "summer of pride."

Levine, a biological male who transitioned in 2011, has long been at the helm of public health and health care decisions that led to detrimental outcomes. As the secretary of Pennsylvania’s health department during the COVID-19 pandemic, Levine followed the lead of New York governor Andrew Cuomo in creating a policy that forced nursing homes to accept COVID-positive patients. At that time, deaths in such facilities accounted for two-thirds of the state’s coronavirus deaths. Levine’s 95-year-old mother moved from a nursing home to a hotel during the policy’s implementation.

At an event in March, Levine promised that children undergoing sex changes had "support at the highest levels of the federal government" and expressed hope that soon "this issue won't be as politically and socially such a minefield."

Levine was the subject of a children’s book published by Chelsea Clinton and written by transgender New Hampshire state representative Lisa Bunker entitled She Persisted: Rachel Levine. The book, dedicated to "all young rainbow humans everywhere," tells its young readers that "Rachel was born transgender, or trans, for short," meaning "she was born with a boy body, but on the inside, in her mind and in her heart, she was a girl."

Levine was also named one of USA Today’s "Women of the Year" in 2022 for being confirmed as "the nation’s highest-ranking openly transgender official."