Fact Check: Rachel Levine Did NOT Say Gender-Affirmation Surgery Should Be Available To Kids

Fact Check

  • by: Christiana Dillard
Fact Check: Rachel Levine Did NOT Say Gender-Affirmation Surgery Should Be Available To Kids Other Care

Did Dr. Rachel Levine, assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, say that gender-affirmation surgery should be available to kids in an interview? No, that's not true: While Levine did support gender-affirming treatment, such treatment is an umbrella term that does not necessarily mean surgery.

The claim was implied in a Facebook post on July 19, 2022. It includes a video titled "Trans Gov't Official Wants Kids to Change Genders" and a caption that reads:

Watch Dr. Levine urge for 'gender-affirming treatment' to be made available to CHILDREN.
In any other country at any other time in history, this would be treated as the insanity that it is, says Jesse Kelly.
'If you're too scared to fight this battle, we've already lost...'

The video includes commentary that suggested that gender-affirming treatment is comparable to grooming and gender affirmation surgery.

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

trans govt FB post.png

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Mon Aug 1 15:02:02 2022 UTC)

References to gender affirmation surgery are made by the speaker in the video that is included in the Facebook post. At the six-second mark, the speaker said:

In virtually any nation, if you walked up to parents and you told them 'Hey, your kid? That little boy of yours? He might actually be a woman. In fact we should talk to him about that, and if he feels like he's a woman, let's get him down to the doctor and -- boop, boop, boop -- snip that bad boy off and then he'll be a woman.

Around the 2:20 mark of the video, the speaker used a mocking, hypothetical story and said that the use of "affirmation" when used to refer to gender-affirming treatment means that a child can get their genitals cut off.

In a July 18, 2022, interview -- a clip from it is in the video in the Facebook post -- Levine was asked to describe what she told transgender youth who she spoke to during an event. Levine answered:

You know, trans youth are vulnerable, and they suffer significant harassment and bullying, sometimes at schools or in their community. They have more mental health issues but there's nothing inherent with being transgender or gender diverse which would predispose youth to depression or anxiety: It is that harassment and bullying. Now they're suffering politically motivated attacks through state actions against these vulnerable transgender youth. This is not based upon data ... these actions are politically motivated. And so we really want to base our treatment and to affirm and to support and empower these youth, not to limit their participation in activities and sports and even limit their ability to get gender-affirming treatment in their state.

Gender-affirming treatment is an umbrella term for psychological, medical and social actions meant to affirm an individual's gender identity. It is often conflated with gender-affirmation surgery, which is only one form of treatment. In actuality, gender-affirming treatment for young people can include puberty blockers, hormone therapy and social affirmation. According to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, the suggested age for gender affirmation surgery is the age of majority in a given country -- in the U.S., that's generally 18 years old.

Furthermore, gender-affirming treatment is not the same as grooming. Using the term "grooming" to describe pro-LGBTQ measures implies that such measures are inherently predatory, a sentiment that has been debunked before.

Other Lead Stories fact checks related to Levine can be found here.

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  Christiana Dillard

Christiana Dillard is a former news writer for Temple University’s Lew Klein College of Media and Communication. She received her undergraduate degree in English Writing from the University of Pittsburgh. She has been a freelance writer for several organizations including the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation, Pitt Magazine, and The Heinz Endowments. When she’s not producing or studying media she’s binging it, watching YouTube videos or any interesting series she can find on streaming services.

Read more about or contact Christiana Dillard

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