WASHINGTON — Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra is defending irreversible transgender sex-change surgeries for children following White House messaging that “early” transgender surgeries, hormone treatment, and affirmations are “crucial” for the health of kids and teens who identify as transgender or nonbinary.
Republican Indiana Sen. Mike Braun pressed Becerra on Wednesday about “gender affirming care” — a phrase used by activists and media to mask the more grisly sounding transgender top and bottom surgeries, including removing a biological women’s breasts, removing a biological man’s genitals, sculpting a fake penis on a biological woman, facial feminization or facial masculinization, and more.
“Could you explain what irreversible top and bottom sex change surgeries are?” questioned Braun.
“Senator, as you just indicated, there are many different types of procedures that can be deployed,” Becerra responded. “What I will say to you, is again, in any case, no individual, no patient will proceed forward unless his or her doctor has advised of the procedure and it is considered by the FDA and others who have to go ahead and certify a medicine or a procedure to be safe and effective.”
Braun pressed Becerra, asking, “In what case would it be appropriate to perform irreversible sex change surgeries on kids?”
“Those decisions are made by that individual in consultation with physician and caregivers,” the HHS secretary responded, “and no decision would be made without having consulted appropriately.”
Braun told Becerra that he did not believe the government should be pushing “irreversible sex change therapy.”
“I think we just need to think about it carefully,” the senator said. “Because we are navigating into territory that we’ve never done before as a government. [If] kids going through this are having a hard time, we should be maybe focusing more on mental health and not things that are irreversible.”
He also admonished the HHS secretary, warning him that as the leader of HHS, “it might be a little more important to be a little more definitive rather than making it look like a laissez-faire approach in ‘whatever happens, happens.'”
“I think that is out of sync with most of America, and it seems to me it would be wise to maybe back up a little bit,” Braun said.
“I believe that we should help those have the life-affirming care that they need,” Becerra responded. “There are many transgender youth who have actually gone in the opposite direction, taking their life, if we can make a life better for someone in America, we should, especially if, in consultation with their physician, they approve of those procedures.”
In late March, the White House flagged a resource from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health on “Transgender Day of Visibility” intended to “inform parents and guardians, educators, and other persons supporting children and adolescents with information on what is gender-affirming care and why it is important to transgender, nonbinary, and other gender expansive young people’s well-being.”
“Gender-affirming care is a supportive form of healthcare,” the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health sheet says. “It consists of an array of services that may include medical, surgical, mental health, and non-medical services for transgender and nonbinary people.”
“For transgender and nonbinary children and adolescents, early gender- affirming care is crucial to overall health and well-being as it allows the child or adolescent to focus on social transitions and can increase their confidence while navigating the healthcare system,” the White House messaging says.
Transgender surgeries, hormones, and affirmations are important, the White House claimed, because these procedures have been “shown to increase positive outcomes for transgender and nonbinary children and adolescents.”
“Gender-affirming care is patient-centered and treats individuals holistically, aligning their outward, physical traits with their gender identity,” the White House messaging sheet added.
Commentators, lawmakers, people who identify as transgender, and people who formerly attempted transitions have expressed grave concerns about encouraging children or young people to explore transitions of any kind.