Senator Rand Paul likened minors getting hormone treatment and transition surgery to genital mutilation during a confirmation hearing for a trans nominee.
Rand Paul angrily confronted Joe Biden's pick for assistant secretary for Health and Human Services on Thursday, likening gender changes surgeries to genital mutilation and pushing the transgender nominee on if they would allow minors to decide if they want to go on hormones to stop puberty.
'We should be outraged that someone is talking to a three-year-old about changing their sex,' Paul said of Rachel Levine, a transgender woman Biden picked to help head up HHS.
Paul, who was a practicing ophthalmologist before becoming a U.S. senator, likened transgender minors starting on transitioning treatments to genital mutilation, blaming the increasing rates of trans-identified youth on 'the social pressure to conform.'
'Genital mutilation has been nearly universally condemned,' Paul began in his line of questioning of Levine.
'Most genital mutilation is not typical performed by force,' he continued in an opening monologue. 'But, as [the World Health Organization] notes, that by social convention, social norm, the social pressure to conform, to do what others do and have been doing, as well as the need to be accepted socially and the fear of being rejected by the community.'
'American culture is now normalizing the idea that minors can be given hormones to prevent their biological development of their secondary sexual characteristics,' Paul continued as Levine appeared before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee for her confirmation hearing on Thursday.
'Dr. Levine, you have supported allowing minors to be given hormone blockers to prevent them from going through puberty, as well as surgical destruction of a minor's genitalia,' the Kentucky Republican senator pointed out. 'Do you believe minors are capable of making such a life changing decision of changing one's sex?'
Levine thanked the senator for his 'interest' in transgender medicine, calling it 'a very complex and nuanced field with robust research and standards of care that have been developed' over time.
'If I'm fortunate enough to be confirmed, I will look forward to working with you and your office and coming to your office to discuss the particulars of the standards of care for transgender medicine,' Levine said.
Levine, a pediatrician, is currently secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health and rose to prominence in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. She was nominated to become Biden's assistant secretary of HHS. If confirmed, she would act as HHS secretary nominee Xavier Becerra's deputy.
Becerra currently serves as attorney general for California.
During the hearing Thursday, Levine did not address the substance of Paul's questions at any points regarding transgender healthcare decisions in cases with minors.
'Let it go into the record that the witness refused to answer the question,' Paul said of Levine. 'The question is a very specific one: should minors be making these momentous decisions?'
'For most of the history of medicine, we wouldn't let you have a cut sewn up in the ER [without parental consent],' he lamented. 'But you're willing to let a minor take things that prevent their puberty, and you think they get that back?'
'You give a woman testosterone enough that she grows a beard, you think she's going to go back looking like a woman when you stop the testosterone? You have permanently changed them. Infertility is another problem,' Paul said.
Levine appeared before the Senate panel alongside Surgeon General nominee Vivek Murthy for a dual confirmation hearing.
'According to the WHO, genital mutilation is recognized internationally as a violation of human right. Genital mutilation is considered particularly egregious because because, as the WHO notes, it is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children,' Paul continued in likening putting children on hormones to castration and female circumcision.
'I'm alarmed that you're not saying they should be prevented from making decisions to amputate their breasts or genitalia,' Paul said during the heated exchange between him and Levine. 'We have always said that minors do not have full rights—will you make a more firm decision on whether or not minors should be involved in these decisions?'
Levine reiterated that transgender medicine is 'a very complex and nuanced field,' but refused to directly answer whether minors should be able to make medical decisions based on changing their sex.