Readout of HHS Secretary Becerra’s Roundtable with Trans Youth
Secretary Becerra was joined in person by Assistant Secretary January Contreras and virtually by Admiral Rachel Levine.
On Monday, June 27, 2022, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Becerra hosted families with transgender children from Massachusetts, Virginia, Texas, California, Georgia, and Florida to hear about their families’ experiences. He emphasized the Department’s commitment to protecting access to health care, including gender-affirming care. January Contreras, the Assistant Secretary for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and Admiral Rachel Levine, the Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH), joined him.
Secretary Becerra thanked the families in the room for providing safe, supportive homes that allow their youth to thrive, and noted that “every American deserves to be safe, every American deserves to be loved.” He stressed the Department’s work to provide support services in schools, related to mental health and beyond, and the Department’s effort to ensure states receiving Medicaid funding abide by nondiscrimination laws.
Statements from Additional Speakers at the Roundtable Follow Below:
January Contreras, Assistant Secretary at the Administration for Children and Families, said the nation’s LGBTQI+ youth “are overrepresented in experiencing foster care and homelessness. At ACF, we share the responsibility with families and communities to change this, while we also work to create safe and gender-affirming spaces where all children and youth can thrive. Every child deserves to feel safe, valued, and loved.”
Admiral Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary for Health, joined via zoom for the second half of the conversation. She was accompanied by Congressman Darren Soto (FL-09) and a group they convened in Florida to discuss protecting trans youth. Admiral Levine underscored that “President Biden and his Administration see the LGBTQI+ community in all its diversity. We have a President who supports equality and works to ensure everyone is represented.”
National Center for Transgender Equality also participated in today’s roundtable. Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, Executive Director, emphasized that “representation matters. Being seen matters. Being heard matters, especially for transgender youth. Across this country, some politicians are trying to score cheap political points by attacking transgender youth and their families. Today, HHS got to hear firsthand about the toll these attacks take, about the ongoing struggle of being transgender in America or loving a transgender child, and to see for themselves the beauty, dignity and poise of these families as they confront these challenges.”
GenderCool also helped to convene this group. Jen Grosshandler, Executive Director and Founder of The GenderCool Project, stated “we applaud the leadership of Secretary Becerra and commitment of Health and Human Services to protecting and affirming transgender and nonbinary youth. When transgender and nonbinary youth are loved and supported, they thrive. We are deeply grateful to HHS and the Biden Administration.”
Danielle King, Senior Youth Policy Counsel at the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), stated that "now more than ever it is important to show up for trans and nonbinary youth and their families, who are facing unprecedented attacks. Queer and trans youth of color particularly face enormous disparities in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems and are uniquely burdened by the school-to-prison pipeline. It is critical that we prioritize protecting our most vulnerable youth. We applaud Secretary Becerra for showing that LGBTQ youth will be protected and supported at the federal level."
Earlier this year, Secretary Becerra announced several immediate actions HHS is taking to protect LGBTQI+ youth’s access to health care, including:
- Releasing guidance to state child welfare agencies through an Information Memorandum that makes clear that states should use their child welfare systems to advance safety and support for LGBTQI+ youth, which importantly can include access to gender-affirming care;
- Releasing guidance on patient privacy to clarify that health care providers are not required to disclose private patient information related to gender-affirming care; and
- Issuing guidance making clear that denials of health care based on gender identity are illegal, as is restricting doctors and health care providers from providing care because of a patient's gender identity.
These actions and others are detailed on HHS' LGBTQI+ website are part of the Department's work to ensure that transgender communities – youth, adults, families, caretakers, and providers – have the resources they need to protect the health care of transgender individuals.
If you believe that you or another party has been discriminated against on the basis of gender identity or disability in seeking to access gender-affirming care, visit HHS' Office for Civil Rights complaint portal to file a complaint online.
The roundtable closed with a statement from a 13-year-old non-binary participant, who stated a simple reminder: “We shouldn’t think about this as talking to trans kids, it’s just talking to kids.”