Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul, who was present at the Senate hearing of Dr. Rachel Levine and Dr. Vivek Murthy for confirmation as assistant health secretary and surgeon general, picked a controversial line of questions on a highly sensitive topic on Thursday. Dr. Levine, who is transgender, was questioned about "genital mutilation" and "gender dysphoria" in a manner that is unusual for a formal Senate hearing.
Senator Paul went on to grill US President Joe Biden's nominee and questioned her beliefs on sex-reassignment and hormone therapy on minors.
He said at the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, "We should be outraged that someone’s talking to a three-year-old about changing their sex. He later added, "You give a woman enough testosterone to grow a beard, you think she’ll go back?”
Dr. Levine countered that while treating minors, a variety of aspects need to be considered before due to the complex nature of the field. She said, "Transgender medicine is a very complex and nuanced field with robust research and standards of care that have been developed."
Senator Paul came under heavy criticism by Democratic senators present at the hearing and by netizens on social media after asking the insensitive based on "misinformation".
Patty Murray, a Democratic Senator from Washington stood in support of the nominee and said, "I appreciated your thoughtful and medically informed response to Sen. Paul’s questions. It is critical to me that nominees be treated with respect.”
Dr. Levine, who played a substantial part in Pennsylvania's fight against COVID-19 while standing in the front lines, was unanimously given the green light by the state's senate for being nominated for the senior position in the Biden administration.
If approved, Dr. Levine is set to be the first openly transgender federal official who will be confirmed by the US Senate, adding on to the already highly-diverse administrative team of US President Joe Biden.