Politics

Rand Paul goes on unhinged transphobic rant at Dr. Rachel Levine’s confirmation hearing

Sen. Rand Paul/Dr. Rachel Levine
Sen. Rand Paul/Dr. Rachel LevinePhoto: Screenshots/C-SPAN

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) went on an anti-transgender tirade when questioning Dr. Rachel Levine, President Joe Biden’s nominee for assistant secretary of health.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a joint hearing to confirm Surgeon General Nominee Dr. Vivek Murphy and Dr. Levine, who is transgender and is the current surgeon general for Pennsylvania. Most questions focused on the government’s response to COVID-19.

Related: Puberty blockers reduce suicidal thoughts in trans people. Republicans want to ban them.

But Sen. Paul decided to rant about how gender affirming health care for transgender kids should be banned instead of left up to families and doctors.

“Genital mutilation has been nearly universally condemned,” Paul started, literally comparing gender affirming health care to child genital mutilation directly to a transgender woman. “Genital mutilation has been condemned by the WHO, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the United Nations Population Fund.”

He went on to say that genital mutilation is egregious because “it is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children.”

If he wanted to compare bottom surgery to genital mutilation, he was already starting out wrong – it’s almost unheard of for minors to get bottom surgery. In fact, that’s why everyone is talking about puberty blockers all the time – to give trans youth more time to understand themselves before puberty permanently affects their bodies.

He then turned to puberty blockers and cited the American College of Pediatricians, an SPLC designated hate group that promotes anti-LGBTQ bias. It is often confused with the American Academy of Pediatrics, the real professional association for pediatricians that urges parents of trans kids to “listen, respect and support their child’s self-expressed identity.”

Paul says that “80 to 90 percent” of children with gender dysphoria “will experience resolution,” a euphemism for stopping being transgender. This statistic is fake but Paul said it anyway at a Senate hearing.

“Dr. Levine, do you believe that minors are capable of making such a life-changing decision as changing one’s sex?” Paul asked Dr. Levine, who appeared shocked by the entire rant.

“Transgender medicine is a very complex and nuanced field with robust research and standards of care that have been developed,” Levine responded, remaining respectful. “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.”

But Paul shot back: “The specific question was about minors” and accused her evading the question

“Do you support the government intervening to override the parents’ consent to give a child puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and/or amputation of breasts and genitalia?” he asked.

He then said that he “would hope you would have compassion” for a person who took puberty blockers as a teen and then stopped. He then called transitioning a “temporary, superficial fix for a very complex identity issue.”

Again, Dr. Levine said, “Transgender medicine is a very complex and nuanced field” and that she “will certainly be pleased” to talk about it with Sen. Paul if confirmed.

“Let it go into the record that the witness refused to answer the question,” Paul said.

“You give a woman testosterone enough that she grows a beard,” he said, not talking about puberty blockers at all anymore, “you think she’s going to go back to looking like a woman when she stops the testosterone?”

He said that “dozens of people who have been through this regret that it has happened” and that there are “no long term studies” on the effects of puberty blockers, even though there are and the science shows that transgender teens who wanted puberty blockers and got them have a significantly lower risk of suicidal thoughts than those who didn’t get them.

Immediately after Paul questioned her, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), asked Dr. Levine about LGBTQ health and addressing systemic health disparities.

Most of the other senators asked Dr. Levine about the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Update: A previous version of this article did not correctly state the name of the American Academy of Pediatrics. We regret the error.

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