While he said they engaged in a “very respectful dialogue and a good exchange,” he challenged Dr. Levine about whether she would favor hormone blockers or sex reassignment surgery for minors — topics that Senator Paul raised during Dr. Levine’s confirmation hearing.
“You’re willing to let a minor take things that prevent their puberty, and you think they get that back?” Senator Paul, who is an ophthalmologist, said angrily at one point. “You give a woman testosterone enough that she grows a beard — you think she’s going to go back looking like a woman when you stop the testosterone?”
Dr. Levine replied, “transgender medicine is a very complex and nuanced field with robust research and standards of care.”
Detractors have seized on a 2017 speech that Dr. Levine gave describing hormone therapy as a standard of care for transgender youth, and also on a Twitter post she made in January 2020 about a study showing that transgender youth with access to puberty blocking drugs are at decreased risk of suicide.
After the hearing, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, denounced Republicans for “their attacks on trans people,” which he called, “just mean, mean and show a complete lack of understanding, a complete lack of empathy.” In a statement on Wednesday, Senator Bob Casey, Democrat of Pennsylvania, said Senator Paul’s “questioning was transphobic and a source of pain for many Americans, particularly transgender youth.”
But Mr. Severino and his fellow conservatives say Dr. Levine is being evasive. The Conservative Action Project, a coalition of conservative leaders, issued a public letter on Tuesday calling on the Senate to reject Dr. Levine’s nomination. It complains that she did not answer Mr. Paul’s questions and questions her handling of the coronavirus pandemic, including Pennsylvania’s decision to designate abortion as an essential health care service.
Opposition to Mr. Becerra centers on abortion and birth control. Republicans have seized on a suit he brought against the Trump administration to block it from expanding religious exemptions for employers that did not want to provide contraceptive coverage through their insurance plans. The Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic organization, later joined the suit.