Admiral Rachel Levine, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) assistant secretary, has caused a stir among conservatives with remarks suggesting children can experience the “wrong puberty.” This bold claim was aired during a “Nightline” interview for ABC News’ series “Identity Denied: Trans in America,” where Levine, a biological male who began identifying as female as an adult, presented a radical idea around pediatric gender dysphoria.
Levine, the first self-proclaimed “female four-star officer of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps,” posited, “What if you’re going through the wrong puberty? What if you inside feel that you are female, but now you’re going through male puberty?” These comments deemed unconventional and alarming by conservatives, have spurred rigorous debate about children’s health and parental rights.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a GOP presidential primary candidate, responded vehemently, “No one can go through ‘the wrong puberty.’ Woke bureaucrats are lying to our children and trying to destroy our country. We must fight back.” His sentiments echo those of many conservatives questioning the influence of progressive ideology on youth healthcare.
What if you transition all because of a “feeling” and then that “feeling” goes away and you’re stuck with a mutilated body and now face a life of regret?
— Anne Hicks (@anne_hicks) July 17, 2023
Levine’s claims regarding puberty and gender identity seem to imply support for medical interventions, such as hormone therapy, for children who feel they are experiencing gender dysphoria. However, these comments come with the reassurance that “for prepubertal children, there are no medical procedures done.” Levine labels such hormone therapies and other interventions as “gender-affirming care,” framing it as a form of “medical care,” “mental health care,” and “suicide prevention care.”
Many Americans have expressed concern and skepticism, arguing that adolescents are too young to make life-altering decisions about their gender identity. Social media platforms are abuzz with worries. One user, reflecting on her tomboyish past, confessed relief that no one had convinced her to take puberty blockers during her adolescence. Another user questioned the permanence of transitional procedures based on fleeting feelings.
Critics, such as Parents Defending Education President Nicki Neily, question Levine’s credibility, highlighting the growing apprehension amongst conservatives about the impact of such radical ideologies on healthcare policy. The overarching concern remains that premature decisions made during the turbulence of adolescence could lead to regrettable consequences.
While Levine continues to promote her viewpoint, numerous conservatives are pushing back, demanding a more balanced approach that respects children’s mental health without prematurely pushing them into life-changing decisions.