On Saturday, Assistant Secretary of Health Rachel Levine gave a speech in Fort Worth, Texas at the Out for Health Conference. In the speech, she urged physicians-in-training to speak out against legislative attacks on trans people.
Levine is the highest ranking trans official in US history. Major publications mostly praised President Biden’s decision to nominate Levine in January of 2021. She has taken little time to celebrate though, reminding other physicians of the discrimination trans kids still face.
“Trans youth in particular are being hounded in public and driven to deaths of despair at an alarming rate. Fifty-two percent of all transgender and nonbinary young people in the US seriously contemplated killing themselves in 2020,” she told NPR. “Think about how many of them thought it was better to die than to put up with anymore harassment, scapegoating and intentional abuse."
In light of the growing number of anti-trans bills throughout the US, bills often rooted in callous and flawed analysis, Levine stated, “the language of medicine and science is being used to drive people to suicide."
Levine is a pediatrician and an adolescent medicine specialist. Before her nomination, she lacked a background in politics. In spite of this, she’s readily condemned legislation aimed at the erasure of the trans community and encourages other trans people to fight as well. But how?
“The Office for Civil Rights has issued a formal interpretation of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act,” Levine said.
“It says you cannot discriminate on the basis of sex, and that includes sexual orientation and gender identity. People who feel that they are being discriminated against can contact the Office for Civil Rights, and they will open a case and investigate.”
The inhospitable climate toward trans people in parts of the US hasn’t deterred the Assistant Secretary of Health and other physicians from performing their duty, erasing the myths that contribute to discrimination. Levine hopes to bring other young, promising physicians on board as well.