FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL—Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., is demanding President Joe Biden’s administration explain whether it will punish states banning transgender surgeries and procedures for children.

During a June 13 House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing, Banks pressed Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to address whether he supports the “restriction of federal funds” to states like Indiana, where lawmakers banned doctors from giving children puberty blockers, hormones, or transgender sex-change surgeries.

That “restriction of federal funds” phrase appears in a 112-page report published by the Department of Health and Human Services as part of policy approach suggestions to “support LGBTQI+ youth.”

“As you know,” the congressman wrote to Becerra in a late June letter first obtained by The Daily Signal, “HHS is the largest grant-making agency in the United States. According to HHS’s website, there are 216 HHS grantees in Indiana alone. These grants go toward promoting healthy marriages and responsible fatherhood, combating the fentanyl epidemic, addressing the mental health crisis, and a host of other issues.”

“Hoosiers deserve to know: As HHS secretary, do you believe this grant funding should be contingent upon our state legislature rolling back policies to protect minors from radical gender ideology?” the Indiana congressman asked.

Banks’ letter comes at a time when state legislatures across the nation seek to protect minors from irreversible transgender sex-change procedures. According to the far-left Human Rights Campaign, at least 20 states have passed laws or policies that protect children from “gender-affirming care“—the euphemism promoted by organizations like the the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD to describe transgender procedures. Seven states are considering similar laws or policies.

Young women like Chloe Cole, an activist and detransitioner, have said they deeply regret getting double mastectomies in attempts to become boys. Advocates like Cole also say that they and their families were duped by the medical establishment and doctors who infamously told their parents: “Would you rather have a dead daughter or a living son?”

Becerra, who heads HHS, has been loathe to directly address questions on this topic. During the June 13 hearing, Banks first asked Becerra at what age he believes American youth should be able to own a hunting rifle, and then at what age the HHS secretary believes American youth should be able to undergo irreversible sex-change procedures.

“Congressman, I would appreciate it if you let me characterize what I believe and we could have a good conversation rather than you characterize what I believe,” Becerra told him, after saying that he believes 18-year-olds should not be able to own guns. “What I would say to you is, with regard to gun violence, I do believe it is important we take action to protect our communities and our neighborhoods.”

Asked if the Biden administration wanted to take funding from states that ban transgender procedures for kids, Becerra responded: “We’re going to protect the rights of any American to get the health care they’re entitled to and if someone tries to stop them from that that’s a violation of the law.”

In his letter to the HHS secretary, Banks emphasized that the Biden administration has made it clear that it is “willing to withhold important resources from states if new standards are not adhered to,” noting that access to the United States Department of Agriculture’s School Lunch Program was “made contingent upon schools recognizing the administration’s redefinition of Title IX.”

That meant that if schools didn’t allow biological males in girls’ locker rooms, or play on girls sports teams, they faced losing their ability to offer children access to free and discount school lunches.

“The American people also deserve answers to other essential questions,” he added. “An official HHS fact sheet titled ‘Gender Affirming Care and Young People’ claims that ‘gender-affirming care improves the mental health and overall well-being of gender diverse children and adolescents.’ Yet that is not the consensus belief among medical professionals, and even those sympathetic to your partisan agenda are troubled by the long-term consequences of minor gender transition.”

The Indiana congressman pushed Becerra to recognize that many doctors do not believe that puberty blockers and hormones improve the overall health and well-being of the children who take them, pointing to a New York Times report that acknowledges risks to young children.

“Why then, are those adverse effects omitted from official HHS literature?” he asked. “Do you feel they are not worth mentioning, and if so, why? How is HHS fulfilling its mandate to inform the American public if it refuses to make them aware of the many adverse effects of such a decision?”

HHS did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Daily Signal.

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