‘No argument’: Is Sec. Levine right about the ‘importance of gender-affirming care?’


Fact Box

  • Rachel Levine is the first openly trans federal officer for the US Department of Health & Human Services confirmed by the Senate in a 52-48 vote on March 24, 2021. 
  • On April 30, 2022, Levine spoke with NPR to discuss federal policy in addressing the increase in state-wide LGBTQ legislation, saying, “There is no argument among medical professionals - pediatricians, pediatric endocrinologist, adolescent and medicine physicians, adolescent psychiatrists, psychologists, etc. - about the value and importance of gender-affirming care.” 
  • The HHS Office of Population Affairs released a document “Gender-Affirming Care and Young People” stating that “early gender-affirming care is crucial to overall health and well-being as it allows the child or adolescent to focus on social transitions and increase their confidence while navigating the healthcare system.”
  • In a February 2022 poll, Pew Research Center reported that 38% of American adults believe “greater acceptance of people who are transgender is generally good for our society, while 32% say it is bad and 29% say it is neither good nor bad.” 
  • A February 2022 Gallup reported LGBTQ identification in the US has ticked up to 7.1% from 5.6% in 2021, with nearly 21% of Gen Z identifying as LGBTQ. Bisexuality was the most common (57%) sexual identity claimed, while 10% identified as transgender.

Amanda (Yes)

Admiral Rachel Levine's emphasis on the importance of gender-affirming care is both the ethically and medically sound approach to support trans and non-binary minors. It should be noted that Levine's statement to NPR is not a fringe position but is supported by the vast majority of the US medical establishment, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Medical Association.

The benefits of gender-affirming care are numerous. LGBTQ+ youth tend to experience higher rates of depression and suicide when compared to their straight or cis peers, with trans teenagers, in particular, suffering adverse mental health outcomes when prevented from expressing their gender identity. But studies have shown that access to puberty blockers and social support can lower those rates, sometimes by as much as 60%.

The counterargument often asserts medical treatments will cause adverse physical effects to the person in question, which relies on the entirely false premise that blockers are permanent, which they aren't. Among the rare cases of someone deciding to detransition permanently out of free choice—rather than societal pressure—or even in the cases of children who are merely gender non-conforming rather than trans, the support of these people by their parents and doctor enable better emotional and psychological outcomes for them. 

Most arguments against gender-affirming care still rely on, at best, bad, outdated science and, at worst, on religiously motivated bigotry, which prioritizes the intolerance of the religious over the actual physical well-being of children and teenagers. Neither of which presents a compelling argument that these are concerns that anyone, let alone the government, should elevate.

Curtice (No)

Assistant Secretary of Health Rachel Levine recently told NPR, 'There is no argument among medical professionals…about the value of gender-affirming care.' Stating there is a consensus or 'no argument' regarding 'gender-affirming' care does not mean there actually is a consensus. This is wishful thinking on the part of Levine and, worse, a seemingly intentional misrepresentation of the facts.

On the contrary, there is wide and international debate within the medical establishment regarding this issue. As there is very little research about the repercussions on adolescents' bodies, much of Europe is moving in a more cautious direction. Sweden's National Board of Health and Welfare recently concluded that the 'risks outweigh the possible benefits.' Even in the US, some specialists—who identify as transgender—have even started to express their doubts. 

Recently, Marci Bowers, MD (president-elect of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health) and Erica Anderson, PhD (president of the US Professional Association for Transgender Health) have publicly shared their hesitancy affirmation treatment of gender dysmorphic youth. Anderson stated that due to 'sloppy' healthcare work, 'more young adults who will regret having gone through this process.'

The Florida Dept. of Health issued a bulletin that led to Levine's comments about consensus, stating that its guidelines, which are in line with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, as well as recommendations from Sweden, Finland, the UK, and France. It states that social gender transition and gender reassignment surgery should not be treatment options for children or adolescents.

Levine argued that Florida's fact sheet was based upon political considerations, which Levine claims is inappropriate. This is absurd, coming from a federal official. The federal government and many Democrat-run state governments have worked nonstop to appease transgender activists, all of whom have successfully made the issue political.

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