Rachel Levine under fire after HHS offers single study to back claims that child sex changes are ‘necessary’ healthcare

Feb 7, 2024 | Political News

Rachel Levine, the trans-identifying Assistant Secretary for the US Department of Health and Human Services, is under fire over allegations that Levine violated the department's scientific integrity policies by claiming that it's “necessary” for transgender youth to receive “gender-affirming care.”

Levine is accused of making politically motivated declarations and misrepresenting scientific evidence after a watchdog group, Protect the Public's Trust, filed a Freedom of Information Act request to the HHS to obtain scientific data that backs up Levine's ongoing claims that “gender-affirming care is medically necessary, safe, and effective for trans and non-binary youth,” the Daily Wire reports.

The HHS was not able to provide substantial evidence and only produced one non-scientific document that declares, “research demonstrates that gender-affirming care improves the mental health and overall well-being of gender-diverse children.”

Additionally, the department sent the group a brochure featured on its website that makes the same declaration as the document.

The claim is backed up by a footnote referencing a single study that found that young people who identify as transgender and are receiving treatment have a marginally lower rate of saying they are suicidal, 51 percent, compared to 62 percent of those who want hormone therapy but aren't receiving it. The brochure also claims that hormone therapy is partially reversible and puberty blockers are reversible.

On Tuesday, Protect the Public's Trust requested for the HHS Inspector General to launch an open investigation into the matter, claiming that Levine is violating the department's scientific integrity policies by making politically motivated declarations and misrepresenting scientific evidence, according to the complaint obtained by the Daily Wire.

“This suggests that Assistant Secretary Levine has constantly, continually, ‘everywhere I go,' made unequivocal statements regarding the medical necessity, safety, and effectiveness of gender-affirming care based entirely upon a single two-page document,” the letter stated.

“When asked for ‘records of scientific evidence, studies, and/or data’ and for ‘records of surveys of medical professionals’ to support these claims, HHS was able to provide only a single information sheet – essentially a piece of marketing material with cherry-picked data and agenda-driven assertions,” the complaint said. “This is the opposite of science and evidence-based policymaking and flies in the face of the agency’s pledge of ‘adherence to professional practices, ethical behavior, and the principles of honesty and objectivity when conducting, managing, using the results of, and communicating about science and scientific activities.'”

The director of the organization, Michael Chamberlain, told the Daily Wire that the department's failure to substantiate its assertions with evidence is “why trust in government health officials has evaporated.”

“When we asked HHS to provide this data, all they offered was a single two-page information sheet with links to cherry-picked, often activist-generated research to justify irreversible and possibly dangerous measures,” said Chamberlain. “Meanwhile, European health services are actively withdrawing their support for these therapies. Even in the face of this, the Assistant Secretary accuses skeptics of ideological motives.”

Levine has long used his role to assert the importance of gender-affirming care for minors, also known as sex change treatments. Biden's health secretary has stated that opposition to transgender youth receiving “evidence-based” gender-affirming treatments is “unconscionable.”

Levine told Reuters, “Gender-affirming care for transgender youth is essential.”

Levine also stated to NPR, “There is no argument among medical professionals—pediatricians, pediatric endocrinologists, adolescent medicine, physicians, adolescent psychiatrists, psychologists, et cetera—about the value and the importance of gender-affirming care.”

The Daily Wire reports that the HHS also states on its website, without providing scientific evidence to backup its claims, that “At HHS, we listen to medical experts and doctors, and they agree with us, that access to affirming care for transgender youth is essential.”

“These statements not only do not acknowledge the contrary evidence, they assert that there is none,” the group said in the letter. “In spite of voluminous scientific evidence from around the world, as well as a growing number of policy decisions in other countries that run in the opposite direction, Adm. Levine has consistently made assertions indicating there is no data, studies, or evidence that contradicts or does not support these statements. The Assistant Secretary has also not only ignored the burgeoning controversy regarding the use of these treatments for minors, but has declared that it simply does not exist, that there is not a modicum of controversy in the scientific or medical communities regarding these treatments.”

“In fact, the opposite appears to be true. There appears to be little evidence in support of the statements issued by Adm. Levine. HHS was provided the opportunity to present the evidence upon which these statements are based. Instead of producing reams of studies, data, and evidence, the agency was unable to deliver anything but a single two-page information sheet, with a few cherry-picked studies. It is difficult to imagine a more clear-cut case of an official violating HHS’s scientific integrity policies and undermining the state of science in pursuit of a controversial policy agenda,” the group argued.