“Do you support the government intervening to override the parent’s consent to give a child puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and/or amputation surgery of breasts and genitalia?” Paul asked Levine. He stated his “alarm” that Levine was not directly answering his questions.
Levine responded that “transgender medicine is a very complex and nuanced field,” and told Paul “if confirmed to the position of assistant secretary of health, I would certainly be pleased to come to your office and to talk to you and your staff about the standards of care and the complexity of this field.”
Roger Severino, the former head of the HHS civil rights office, stated that Levine’s answer manifested “ideology” rather than “science.”
“I met with Dr. Levine while at HHS and asked a simple question. ‘What does it mean to be male or female?’ Much like @RandPaul, I couldn't get an answer,” Severino tweeted. “Science is about clarity and openness to review while ideology is about subjectivity backed by coercion of those who disagree.”
Severino is currently a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC), and directs the center’s HHS Accountability Project.
As Pennsylvania’s health secretary, Levine reportedly supported allowing minors to start hormone therapy, but only with their parents’ consent.
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In a 2017 address at Franklin & Marshall College on transgender medicine, the health secretary said that teenagers could start taking puberty blockers at the start of puberty, and with the consent of parents, a therapist, and a physician.
For 14-16 year-olds, they could take cross-gender hormones with a gradual dosage increase, Levine said, while most transgender surgeries take place after the age of 18.
Regarding homeless youth who identify as LGBT, Levine said they do not have the “luxury” of protocols, so the transition process could be “accelerated” for them.