Rachel Levine, the assistant secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has been accused of violating scientific integrity policies after offering limited evidence for why “gender-affirming care” is “necessary.”
The allegations occurred after watchdog group Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT) filed a Freedom of Information Act request for data supporting the claim that “gender-affirming care is medically necessary, safe, and effective for trans and non-binary youth,” according to The Daily Wire.
HHS provided a two-page document in response to the request.
The document is not a scientific study supporting the HHS’s claims, but is a paper asserting that “research demonstrates that gender-affirming care improves the mental health and overall well-being of gender-diverse children.”
The paper contains a singular footnote pointing to a study finding that transgender individuals were less suicidal when receiving treatment; 51% of trans-identifying young people were suicidal compared to 62% of those not receiving hormones.
After receiving the documents, PPT wrote to the HHS Inspector General, alleging that Levine violated the department’s scientific integrity policies by making politically-motivated claims.
“When asked for ‘records of scientific evidence, studies, and/or data’ and for ‘records of surveys of medical professionals’ to support these claims, HHS was able to provide only a single information sheet – essentially a piece of marketing material with cherry-picked data and agenda-driven assertions,” the complaint read. “This is the opposite of science and evidence-based policymaking and flies in the face of the agency’s pledge of ‘adherence to professional practices, ethical behavior, and the principles of honesty and objectivity when conducting, managing, using the results of, and communicating about science and scientific activities.’”
“In spite of voluminous scientific evidence from around the world, as well as a growing number of policy decisions in other countries that run in the opposite direction, Adm. Levine has consistently made assertions indicating there is no data, studies, or evidence that contradicts or does not support these statements,” the letter added. “The Assistant Secretary has also not only ignored the burgeoning controversy regarding the use of these treatments for minors, but has declared that it simply does not exist, that there is not a modicum of controversy in the scientific or medical communities regarding these treatments.”