Rand Paul called ‘disgusting’ after attacking Joe Biden’s transgender health nominee on trans issues
Republican Senator Rand Paul has criticised one of President Joe Biden’s health nominees for her support of gender-confirmation surgery and hormone therapy for minors.
Dr Rachel Levine, the Pennsylvania secretary of health and Mr Biden’s pick for assistant secretary of health if confirmed by the Senate, faced a line of questioning from senators on Thursday during her confirmation hearing.
During his questioning, Mr Paul compared children taking hormones or undergoing gender-confirmation surgery to genital mutilation. Genital mutilation, which is condemned by public health organisations like the World Health Organisation (WHO), is the act of removing some or all of the external female genitalia for no medical purpose.
“American culture is now normalising the idea that minors can be given hormones to prevent their biological development of their secondary biological characteristic,” Mr Paul said.
Mr Paul went on to state that Dr Levine, who is a transgender woman, has supported minors taking hormone-blocking medication, even if their parents have expressed concerns about the transition.
“For most of our history, we have believed that minors don’t have full rights and that parents need to be involved,” Mr Paul continued. “We should be outraged that someone’s talking to a three-year-old about changing their sex.”
He then asked if Dr Levine believed minors are “capable of making life-changing decisions as changing one’s sex?”
Dr Levine sidestepped the question and instead answered the senator more broadly about transgender issues and their relation to the medical community.
“Transgender medicine is a very complex and nuanced field with robust research and standards of care that have been developed,” Dr Levine said. Then she added she would “be pleased” to answer questions about puberty blockers and transitioning in minors in the future if confirmed by the Senate.
But the answer did not satisfy the senator, who said she did not answer specifically answer if minors should be “making these momentous decisions”.
“You’re willing to let a minor take things to prevent their puberty, and you think they get back?” Mr Paul asked. “You have permanently changed them ... None of these drugs have been approved for this ... There are no long-term studies, we don’t know what happens to them. If you’ve ever been around children, 14-year-olds can’t make this decision.”
Conservatives have slammed the nomination of Dr Levine over concerns she could “normalise” being transgender. But LGBT+ advocate groups have celebrated her nomination, as she would be the highest-ranking transgender official in the federal government to ever take office, if confirmed.
Vanessa Lamers, the assistant director to the Public Health Foundation, condemned the Republican senator on Twitter for his line of questioning.
“No. @RandPaul. You absolutely cannot compare transgender medicine and hormone pills to genital mutilation. This is a disgusting line of questioning,” she wrote.
Senator Patty Murray, a Democrat and chairwoman of the Senate Health Committee, later praised Dr Levine for her responses and criticised Mr Paul’s line of questioning.
"It is really critical to me that our nominees be treated with respect and that our questions focus on their qualifications and the work ahead of us, rather than on ideological and harmful misrepresentations like those we heard from Senator Paul earlier," Ms Murray said.
Dr Levine has previously publicly expressed her support for puberty blockers being used for minors, although she has not indicated if there should be a particular age a child should reach prior to accessing this medication.
“A new study has found that #Transgender youth with access to a puberty blocker have decline in chances of suicide + #mentalhealth problems now and in the future. This study is important because it’s the first to show this specific association,” she wrote in a tweet last month.
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