Transgender HHS Nominee Refuses to Say That Minors Shouldn’t Override Parents and Make Their Own Decisions About Transitioning

At Thursday’s Senate confirmation hearings, Sen. Rand Paul confronted Rachel Levine, a transgender doctor and Biden’s Assistant HHS Secretary nominee, asking if “she” supports minors overriding their parents on transitioning to the opposite sex.

Do you support the government intervening to override the parents’ consent to give a child puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and/or amputation surgery of breasts and genitalia?” Paul asked. “You have said that you’re willing to accelerate the protocols for ‘street kids.’ I’m alarmed that poor kids with no parents, who are homeless and distraught—you would just go through [with] this and allow that to happen to a minor.”

Paul then brought up Keira Bell, a biological female who started transitioning to a male at 16 years old and now deeply regrets her decision. Bell recently won a court case that accused the Tavistock Centre in London of rushing her transition without proper guidance. Paul says he hoped Levine “would have compassion” for Bell.

At 14 she went on the internet [and saw] something about transsexuals, she thought, ‘Well maybe that’s what I am.’ She ended up getting these puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, she had her breasts amputated. But here’s what ultimately she says now, and this is a very insightful decision from someone who made a mistake but was led to believe this was a good thing by the medical community.”

Paul quotes Bell as saying, “I made a brash decision as a teenager, as a lot of teenagers do, trying to find confidence and happiness. Except now the rest of my life will be negatively affected. […] Medicalized gender transitioning was a very temporary, superficial fix for a very complex identity issue.”

Paul then picks back up and repeats his concern that Levine won’t unequivocally say that minors shouldn’t be making their own decisions to amputate body parts and take cross-sex hormones.

For most of our history we have believed that minors don’t have full rights and the parents need to be involved. So I’m alarmed that you won’t say with certainty that minors should not have the ability to make the decision to take hormones that will affect them for the rest of their life. Will you make a more firm decision on whether minors should be involved in these decisions?

Levine’s response was as follows: “Senator, transgender medicine is a very complex and nuanced field, and if confirmed to the position of Assistant Secretary of Health, I would certainly be pleased to come to your office and talk with you and your staff about the standards of care…”

So the answer to Paul’s original question, then, is “no.” Levine does not think parents should have the authority to prevent their children from transitioning to the opposite sex. She should just say that rather than try to sidestep it with the cop-out that “transgender medicine is very complex and nuanced.”