Rachel Levine calls a spade a spade and slams anti-LGBT+ bills as ‘dangerous to trans youth’

Dr Rachel Levine speaks to a person off camera while wearing a blue uniform with an American flag in the background

Dr Rachel Levine has slammed the “disturbing” wave of anti-LGBT+ bills making their way through state legislatures across the US. 

Levine, who is the US assistant secretary of health, spoke to NPR ahead of her appearance at the Out For Health Conference – a medical conference that seeks to address issues facing the LGBT+ community – at Texas Christian University this weekend. 

She said one of the “biggest messages” she hoped to give young medical professionals attending the event is about the “challenges that the LGBTQI+ community face, particularly youth”. 

“The challenges come from very disturbing – and frankly discriminatory – laws and actions that many states are taking that are potentially dangerous and costing the lives of young people,” Levine said. “I think it’s a very important message to give young physicians in training.”

She also spoke more broadly about the hundreds of anti-LGBT+ bills being debated in state legislatures across the US. 

Over a dozen states in the US have enacted laws which restricted trans athletes’ ability to participate in sports, and there have been dozens of bills attacking trans healthcare in the US. 

Other pieces of proposed legislation are focused on preventing discussions on sexual orientation and gender identity in schools – which have been dubbed as ‘Don’t Say Gay or Trans’ bills by LGBT+ advocates. 

Dr Rachel Levine believed the bills are related to “political motivation” but are also motivated by an attempt to “stigmatise a vulnerable community”, particularly LGBT+ people. 

“We have a mental health crisis in this country, particularly among our young people, with increasing rates of depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, suicidal behaviour,” Levine explained.  

“Our surgeon general, Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy, highlighted that in a surgeon general’s advisory in December of 2021.”

She said LGBT+ youth and young trans people are among the “most vulnerable groups of young people” in the US. Levine said these young people need to be affirmed rather than attacked by vile legislation. 

“We need to empower them because they are at risk, and they have a very high rate of suicidal thought and we have to act to prevent them from harming themselves,” Levine added. “[We have] to support those young people and their families.”

Levine is the first openly trans four-star officer admiral in American history, and she was recently named one of USA Today’s “Women of the Year”.

Levine had a special message to trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming people reading her feature with the outlet. She told them to “be true to yourself” and trust that everything else will fall into place eventually. 

“You have tremendous worth just for who you are, no matter who you love, no matter who you are, no matter what your gender identity, sexual orientation or anything else, and to be, be true to that,” Dr Rachel Levine said. “And then everything else will follow.”