Highest-ranking transgender official Rachel Levine visits Seattle Children's gender clinic
Assistant U.S. Secretary for Health Rachel Levine made a rare visit to the gender clinic at Seattle Children's hospital on Tuesday. The country's highest-ranking transgender official spoke with doctors and patients as a wave of state legislatures consider bills targeting gender care for kids.
Doctors and patients there are concerned because lawmakers in 15 states have introduced bills to ban gender affirming care for kids this year.
Levine, the only transgender government official to ever be confirmed by the U.S. senate, says President Biden and the federal Department of Health and Human Services side with trans kids and against what she called "politically motivated attacks."
One Idaho bill appears to be dead in the state Senate after passing the House by a vote of 55-13.
House Bill 675 would have amended Idaho's law against female genital mutilation and made providing treatments including hormone therapy, a felony for doctors and parents seeking care for their children. The Republican Idaho Senate Majority Caucus wrote in a statement that while they do not support genital surgery on minors, the bill undermines a parent's right to make medical decisions for their child.
Treatments like hormone therapy and puberty blockers are considered mainstream and medically uncontroversial, but genital surgery is outside generally accepted standards of care for trans youth. KTVB7 reports these surgeries are not being performed in Idaho in the first place, according to the Idaho Medical Association.
Seattle Children's clinic is caring for some trans kids who live in Idaho.
"We need to empower these youth, not to attack them. And I do have concerns about the impact of these laws -- even if they're not enacted -- on the mental health of trans youth," Levine said.
She visited the gender clinic while on a larger overall tour of Seattle Children's, which included stops to its emergency department and to an in-patient unit for severely ill children with mental health concerns.
Levine is currently on the road to advocate for youth mental health treatment across the country, an issue President Joe Biden raised during his State of the Union address earlier this month.