Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) is leading a group of senators on Assistant Secretary of Health Rachel Levine, the first openly transgender person to obtain Senate confirmation as a presidential appointee, to issue new guidance on mental health care needs for transgender youth.
In a letter dated Sept. 30 and obtained Tuesday by the Washington Blade, the senators make the case current standards are insufficient for transgender and gender expansive, or TGE, adolescents, including exploring, non-binary, agender, genderfluid and queer youth.
“Our goal is to help mental health providers offer the best care they can to the nation’s TGE youth without a delay in treatment,” the letter says. “The focus of this request is for the pressing needs of hospital or residential care even as we recognize the need for guidance across all settings of mental health care.”
Specifically, the senators call on the Behavioral Health Coordinating Council, or BHCC, and experts in the field of adolescent transgender care to offer guidance on best practices for inpatient mental health care among these youth.
The senators address the letter to Levine, who in addition to being transgender has a background in care for adolescent youth, and Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, assistant secretary for mental health and substance use.
Cited in the letter are findings from the Trevor Project, an organization that supports LGBTQ youth, which determined more than half of transgender and non-binary youth seriously contemplated killing themselves in 2020.
“While behavioral health and pediatric organizations have published resources regarding TGE health care, we have heard from hospital providers they are seeking guidance on best practices for serving gender diverse youth in community residential and inpatient mental health settings,” the letter says.
The seven senators who signed the letter along with Murphy are Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).
An HHS spokesperson for Levine’s office, in response to the letter, told the Washington Blade: “We have received the letter and will be reviewing it.”