No, Biden nominee Dr Rachel Levine hasn’t said trans children should undergo surgery

Nick Duffy
·3-min read

Misinformation is once again being deliberately spread about Joe Biden nominee Dr Rachel Levine, who has been the repeated target of attacks because she is transgender.

The qualified medic, who earned a high profile during the coronavirus crisis as Pennsylvania’s health secretary, has faced a series of smears after being named as Biden’s pick for assistant secretary for health.

Ahead of a Senate confirmation battle, a series of viral false posts with transphobia at their heart have targeted Levine.

One post that racked up tens of thousands of shares on Facebook featured a fabricated photo of Levine alongside overweight people.

Anti-LGBT+ trolls are spreading misinformation about trans Biden nominee

It claimed: “Biden’s new overweight transgender health secretary and her/his family. Dr Rachel Levine, she will be in charge of our healthy lifestyle. Congratulations America!!”

The post did not feature Levine’s real family, and instead photoshopped her into a photo from the British TV show Lorraine Kelly’s Big Fat Challenge.

Dr Rachel Levine has faced a viral misinformation campaign spreading falsehoods
Dr Rachel Levine has faced a viral misinformation campaign spreading falsehoods

A second post, also false, featured a made up tweet showing Levine boasting about being on the cover of Vanity Fair and claiming: “My dream of becoming POTUS one day just took a step forward.” Neither the tweet nor the magazine cover exist.

Anti-LGBT conservatives have targeted Rachel Levine with a trolling effort
Anti-LGBT conservatives have targeted Rachel Levine with a trolling effort

Fanatical Trump anti-LGBT+ outlets Newsmax and The National Pulse have now joined the misinformation train, with Newsmax claiming without any basis in reality that Levine supports “gender reassignment surgery for pre-pubescent children”.

The articles point to tweets from Levine sharing research on puberty blockers – reversible drugs that are prescribed to trans teenagers – as well as her presence at a 2012 medical conference where she led a session exploring “medical care for transgender youth”.

However, at no point does Levine support reassignment surgery on trans children, which is routinely restricted to adults over the age of 18 across most of the US.

National Pulse writer Jon Schweppe, who claimed without any foundation in reality that Levine has led sessions “on how to perform sex changes and gender conversion therapy on children”, called on Republican senators to take up the issue.

He claimed: “While the draconian treatment of local Pennsylvania governments and the COVID-19 nursing home scandal should be enough to call Dr Levine’s nomination into question, Levine’s commitment to imposing a radical gender ideology on our nation’s children should perhaps be of even greater concern to the Senate HELP Committee.”

Schweppe added: “It is unclear whether any senators will question Levine on these judgments, or on Levine’s radical transgender ideology.”

Rachel Levine has faced repeated transphobic attacks

Facing dog-whistle and fog horn transphobia is nothing new for Levine, who faced a number of grotesque attacks from conservatives over her role in Pennsylvania.

While conservative radio hosts and Trump fanatics fell over themselves to misgender and degrade Levine, one local fair put a man in a dress as a “parody” of the official, while a restaurant added “Levine balls” to its menu alongside transphobic references to her.

After her nomination by Joe Biden, Pennsylvania Republican lawmaker Jeffrey Pyle mocked her on Facebook.

The since-deleted post featured a photograph of Levine with the caption: “American citizens express optimism and renewed hope as Benjamin Franklin joins Joe Biden’s cabinet.”