Dr Rachel Levine gracefully sidestepped a barrage of loaded questions about trans healthcare from Republican Senator Rand Paul during her Senate hearing.
Levine, 63, would make history if confirmed by the Senate as Joe Biden’s assistant secretary of health, becoming America’s first openly transgender federal official.
The fact that she is trans has never interfered with her professionalism, yet it inevitably became the focus of hostile questions during her confirmation hearing.
Rand Paul grilled Levine on her support of gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth, which he misleadingly compared to forced “genital mutilation,” a practice that is recognised internationally as a human rights violation.
He told Levine she supports “surgical destruction of a minor’s genitalia” and said he’s concerned gender-affirming therapy “can permanently alter and prevent secondary sexual characteristics”.
The Kentucky Senator then asked Levine: “Do you believe that minors are capable of making such a life-changing decision as changing one’s sex?”
Refusing to be drawn, Levine responded calmly and thanked Paul for his question.
“Transgender medicine is a very complex and nuanced field with robust research and standards of care that have been developed,” she said. She promised to discuss the “particulars” further if confirmed.
Unsatisfied with this answer, Rand Paul pressed further: “Will you make a more firm decision on whether minors should be involved with these decisions?”
Dr Levin responded again that if confirmed, she’d be “pleased” to talk with him and his staff about transgender standards of care.
Paul was rebuked by the chair of the committee, Patty Murray, for his “harmful misrepresentations”.
“It is really critical to me that our nominees be treated with respect,” she said, “and that our questions focus on their qualifications and the work ahead of us.”
Here’s Rand Paul likening transition surgery to “genital mutilation” while questioning Dr. Rachel Levine, a trans woman, at her confirmation hearing. pic.twitter.com/9bGixLtLhX
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) February 25, 2021