Transgender Assistant Secretary for Health for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Rachel Levine recently praised the work of children’s hospitals, such as Connecticut Children’s Medical Center (CCMC) in Hartford, for their “gender-affirming care” clinics that provide children and teens with puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and transgender surgeries, such as elective double mastectomies.
Levine (born Richard Levine) told a very welcoming audience at CCMC’s Pediatric Grand Rounds in February that “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex Americans, especially our youth … need our attention because they’re being attacked and … are attempting suicide at an alarming rate.”
The top Biden health official appeared to be attempting to boost the morale of children’s hospital gender clinic staff who have been widely criticized for providing medical treatments to young people who likely cannot comprehend their long-term consequences. Levine said:
We are facing significant challenges in terms of providing evidence-based standard of care treatment for transgender and gender non-binary youth and their families. And those youth and families have been targeted for discrimination, harassment and abuse. And as you said, the providers have been targeted as well, even at expert children’s hospitals, such as yours at Connecticut Children’s Hospital, but I’ve heard the same thing at Yale. I’ve heard the same thing at Children’s Hospital Philadelphia at Boston Children’s Hospital, and actually throughout the country. I think it is unconscionable that expert children’s hospitals are being targeted for this abuse .. I think that these attacks are ideologically and politically motivated. I think they’re being done primarily for political purposes throughout the country. And I think that we need to stand up to these attacks and to provide the expert care that we that we know through standard of care evidence-based treatment.
“I think that the wheel will turn on this,” Levine continued, seeming to convey that children’s gender transitions will become more acceptable.
“I think that it’s not going to be politically advantageous,” the HHS official speculated. “It wasn’t particularly in 2022. And so I think that as we look to all the different elections in 2024, I think the next two years are going to be challenging, 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 promised gender clinic staff at CCMC that they have the support of the “highest levels of the federal government,” including Joe Biden, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, and the Department of Justice.
Nadia states that impacting schools is a huge part CHOP’s Gender Clinic’s mission. They currently provide trainings for educators and schools, helping them to adopt and implement this ideology. pic.twitter.com/dHr1mgb7Y4
— Megan Brock (@MegEBrock) September 23, 2022
The Biden health official continued a common narrative of LGBTQ activists that “gender-affirming care” is essential to prevent trans-identified youth from committing suicide.
Citing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data that noted school shutdowns during the pandemic, which the Biden administration engineered with collaboration between the CDC itself and the teachers’ unions, Levine said, “one in four teenagers who identified as LGBTQ+ reported attempting suicide in the first half of 2021.”
“They had suicidal ideation during that time, compared to cisgender heterosexual students,” Levine emphasized. “LGBTQ+ respondents reported higher percentages of poor mental health during the pandemic.”
Levine delivered no criticism, however, for the school shutdowns; instead, the top HHS official berated parents for the claim of suicidal ideation by their gender-confused children, supposedly because, unlike at school, the children felt they had to hide their true “identities” from their parents at home.
Citing a brief in the Journal of Adolescent Health in September 2020, Levine said “LGBTQ youth were facing considerable additional stressors while at home and studying remotely, in addition to those faced by all of their peers.”
“They were leery of conducting therapy sessions over the phone,” Levine detailed the brief. “They were unable to express themselves or live fully in their identities. And they were … feeling stuck at home with unsupportive parents and family members.”
Levine claimed “numerous peer-reviewed journals have noted that there is nothing inherent with being transgender that predisposes youth to negative mental health outcomes,” adding:
It is the bullying, the harassment, and discrimination that transgender youth face that leads to these conditions. Transgender youth who are supported by their parents, school, and community, who receive evidence-based standard of care treatment actually have excellent mental health outcomes. Gender-affirming care is medical care, gender-affirming care is mental health care, and, literally, gender-affirming care is suicide prevention care.
.@AkronChildrens proudly displays on their website that they offer "pubertal suppression" and "gender-affirming hormones" to adolescents. pic.twitter.com/Au0Y9EtNcc
— Libs of TikTok (@libsoftiktok) September 18, 2022
Levine’s narrative, however, that immediately providing gender-confused children with life-altering hormone drugs and mutilating surgeries will prevent them from committing suicide, has already been debunked.
The health official continues to cite the controversial Trevor Project, a so-called “suicide prevention organization” for LGBTQ youth. Its 2022 National Survey of LGBTQ youth, Levine said, found 56 percent of the youth surveyed “reported their mental health is poor.”
The Trevor Project’s “research,” with its samples that often rely on online self-reports, predictably concludes an “alarmingly high risk of suicide” among LGBTQ young people.
Such reporting “frequently conflates suicidal thoughts and non-suicidal self-harm with serious suicide attempts and completed suicides,” observed Dr. Stephen Levine and his colleagues in a study published in March 2022 in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy:
Until recently, little was known about the actual rate of suicide of trans-identified youth. However, a recent analysis of data from the biggest pediatric gender clinic in the world, the UK’s Tavistock, found the rate of completed youth suicides to be 0.03% over a 10-year period, which translates into the annual rate of 13 per 100,000 (Biggs, 2022). While this rate is significantly elevated compared to the general population of teens, it is far from the epidemic of trans suicides portrayed by the media.
Stephen Levine also highlighted that “gender-affirmative care,” i.e., social, medical, and surgical interventions in response to gender dysphoria, is “still based on very low-quality evidence.”
“The many risks of these interventions, including medicalizing a temporary adolescent identity, have come into a clearer focus through an awareness of detransitioners,” he asserted, adding that while the lack of high-quality evidence for the success of these interventions should demand a comprehensive informed consent about their “risks and long-term outcomes,” the process is restricted by “erroneous professional assumptions; poor quality of the initial evaluations; and inaccurate and incomplete information shared with patients and their parents.”
The question of suicide is inappropriately handled,” Stephen Levine and his colleagues continued:
[T]he “transition or die” narrative, whereby parents are told that their only choice is between a “live trans daughter or a dead son” (or vice-versa), is both factually inaccurate and ethically fraught. Disseminating such alarmist messages hurts the majority of trans-identified youth who are not at risk for suicide. It also hurts the minority who are at risk, and who, as a result of such misinformation, may forgo evidence-based suicide prevention interventions in the false hopes that transition will prevent suicide.
The Wisconsin Daily Star also recently reported that TrevorSpace, an “affirming” social networking site for LGBTQ young people, aged 13-25, “is an arm of The Trevor Project.”
The site, the report observed, “allows children and adults (strangers) to communicate directly while encouraging discussions of human sexuality, sexual attraction, and sexual fetishes.”
A group called Do No Harm, an organization of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals, also recently debunked a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine that claimed transgender and nonbinary young people who received “gender-affirming hormones” experienced positive effects, including increased life satisfaction and a decrease in suicidal ideation. Two of the 315 participants, however, did commit suicide, and 11 still experienced suicidal ideation.
Do No Harm observed in its report the study had numerous flaws, including the fact that it had no control group:
This study, despite the headlines it has received, is fatally flawed and borderline unscientific. Like other studies on the topic, it obfuscates rather than clarifies questions around the medical transition of children. Policymakers must accept that elite gatekeepers have become cheerleaders and that their recommendations on politicized topics warrant healthy skepticism.
AAPS Executive Dir. @jorient speaks with Rob Schmitt on NewsmaxTV about the AAPS Statement Opposing "Gender-Affirming" Care for Minor Children. https://t.co/oZDYf7P2cg
— Association of American Physicians & Surgeons (@AAPSonline) March 1, 2023
In comments to The Star News Network, Jane Orient, M.D., executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) said “there is NO objective, long-term evidence of psychological benefit from “gender-affirming care,” whatever those organizations – or their tiny elite of policymakers say”:
In particular, there is no discussion of how the 85-90% of children who accept their sex after they go through puberty fare in comparison to those who were denied that prospect by their “therapy.” Where is the consideration for the impact of not reaching normal height, having diminished bone and muscle mass, increased cardiovascular risk, and possibly impaired intellectual development? What about the realization at age 35 that you will never have a lifelong mate, especially one who is the other parent of your children?
“Physicians, of course, should always respect their patients and treat them with compassion,” Orient said. “This means they should refrain from treatments they believe to be unethical or harmful, even if requested by a patient and promoted by the federal government.”
California endocrinologist Dr. Michael Laidlaw confirmed to Lumen-News in April 2022:
It is unethical to put kids on a pathway to sterilization as early as age 8 or 9, before they know anything about sex or human development. Blocking normal puberty can be permanently harmful to the bone, brain, and social development of kids.
Transgender surgeries, Laidlaw asserted, “cause irreversible damage, and the healthy organs that are removed – such as breasts, ovaries, and testicles – can never be replaced.”
“Furthermore, there are many detransitioners who deeply regret being medicalized by this experimental treatment, and their voices need to be heard,” he asserted.
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Susan Berry, PhD, is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Rachel Levine” by Governor Tom Wolf. CC BY 2.0. Background Photo “Child” by Tetyana Kovyrina.