By a vote of 52 to 48, the Senate confirmed the appointment of Dr. Rachel Levine as Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services. Every Democrat and Independent senator voted in favor of confirmation, along with two Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski, from Alaska, and Susan Collins, from Maine.
News headlines hyped the appointment as “historic” and said Levine was the “the first openly transgender person to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.” Earlier this year, The Daily Citizen wrote about Levine’s nomination, which was announced by Joe Biden one day before his inauguration as president.
A tweet about the story led Twitter to lock The Daily Citizen out of its account because the company considered it “hateful conduct.” Many groups, led by our allies over at Family Policy Alliance, supported us with a Twitter campaign, a petition and a letter to the big tech firm, opposing their actions. We are grateful for their support, which led to dozens of news outlets discussing the ban. (My favorite headline begins with the question: “What is FOTF?”)
But others questioned our description of Levine as a “transgender woman, that is, a man who believes he is a woman.”
“Why did you have to say that?” they asked. “Why’d you have to mention that Levine is transgender and was born male?” “Does the doctor’s belief that he’s a woman matter?”
Here are some responses to those questions:
- We mentioned Levine’s transgender status because the White House did. The initial press release said, “She is poised to become the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.” It was part of the story, repeated by almost every outlet that covered the nomination.
- The article and the tweet that followed simply explained the truth to our readers: “Dr. Levine is a transgender woman, that is, a man who believes he is a woman.”
- Transgenderism is confusing to many. Even after years of researching and writing about LGBT topics, when someone uses terms like “transgender woman” or “transman,” I have to stop and think, “Okay, which direction does that go? Aside from how this was worded in the article, we might frame this other ways, such as “a biological male who believes he’s female” or “someone born male who thinks he’s a woman.” Twitter did not explain, when we asked, what wording would be acceptable.
- The language we use is important. Many today would speak about Dr. Levine as transgender – and then go on to describe the doctor as a woman and use female pronouns. The Daily Citizen does not subscribe to gender Dress, makeup, drugs, hormones and surgeries cannot turn a man into a woman. We try to avoid language that affirms gender ideology – and explain terms when we do so.
- Even the term “transgender” is problematic and confusing. The American Heritage Dictionary defines it as, “Relating to or being a person whose gender identity does not conform to that typically associated with the sex to which they were assigned at birth.” Activists also use the term as an umbrella to cover an ever-growing list of “gender identities” and others, such as cross-dressers, Drag Queens and Drag Kings. The term often needs clarification when used.
- Notice, too, that the definition above uses the phrase “being a person,” implying that “transgender” is an actual type of person, a person’s deepest, “real” self. Christians believe transgender identities are false, and we want to help people embrace their true identity as a man or a woman, as evidenced and specified by their biological sex. Not defining the term is colluding with this falsehood.
- Focus on the Family believes what Christians have “believed everywhere, always by all” about humans: God made us male and female in His image, and individuals are either male or female. Both male and female are distinct and valuable, and our sex – being male or female – matters for relationships, marriage and family. These are issues we care deeply about.
- We disagree strongly with the doctor on key subjects, such as support and advocacy for puberty blockers, hormones and surgeries for children or adults. Despite what Levine said when questioned by Senator Rand Paul at the confirmation hearing, there is not “robust research” on this issue – especially for children. As the American College of Pediatricians writes, “There is not a single long term study to demonstrate the safety or efficacy of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and surgeries for transgender-believing youth.”
- It is important to know the new assistant secretary’s views on harming children and adults with these procedures and drugs when deciding whether or not to confirm the appointment.
- Levine’s new position gives the doctor power to enforce transgender ideology, threatening religious freedom. As agencies follow the White House directive to push LGBT activism, it’s likely that HHS will attempt to revert to the Obama administration’s mandate that all health care providers must participate in offering drugs, hormones and surgeries for those with sexual identity confusion – even if doing so is against their religious and scientific beliefs.
- Levine’s sexual identity confusion doesn’t mean the doctor is not competent and talented in other areas. But it does call into question the new secretary’s beliefs about the scientific reality of human sexual dimorphism. Every cell in Levine’s body has XY chromosomes, and those chromosomes led to his biological development and growth as a male. Sex chromosomes affect the operation of about 6,500 genes. Biological realities don’t change because someone believes gender ideology and takes female hormones.
The Daily Citizen was not trying to be unkind to Dr. Levine; we constantly strive to see that our language and tone express both love and truth. While we vehemently differ on the issues, Dr. Levine is also made in God’s image and deserves compassion and respect. It’s difficult to maintain this balance, caring for people while opposing their views and policies. We don’t always do this perfectly.
News outlets and other activists called opposition to Dr. Levine’s appointment a “transphobic tirade” and a “transphobic attack” with “transphobic misinformation.” Nonsense. Such pejorative language stifles dialogue about important questions.
Big tech companies, like Twitter and Facebook, also stifle discussion about transgenderism when they shadow ban articles, block content, label posts “misinformation,” or supply their own spin on this topic. We strongly support freedom of speech and religion, which is why we’ll continue to oppose big tech when it shuts those down.
Gender ideology, ad hominem attacks and big tech censorship don’t change the truth about creation and biological reality. Dr. Rachel Levine’s transgender status as a man who believes he’s a woman matters – for truth telling; for HHS policies; and for children and adults who will be damaged with experimental procedures.
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Photo from POOL/REUTERS