Stephen B. Levine

This content was last updated Nov. 16, 2023, 4:42 p.m. UTC

Stephen Barrett Levine is a psychiatrist and researcher on sexual dysfunction who has been practicing with trans individuals as part of that rubric since the 1970s, in addition to other work on erectile dysfunction and sex offenders. He has written numerous articles in opposition to gender affirming care, and believes that being trans is caused by poor familial upbringing. He has sought to cure transgender people through psychotherapy, a method which lacks any evidentiary base.

He is notable for making many appearances in state courts and legislature to oppose mainstream transgender care. This includes Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Wisconsin. This has been met with protest by some trans rights advocates.

Trans medicalization may someday be viewed as a therapeutic misadventure just as the false memory syndrome and brain surgery [lobotomies] for depression has been.

Q&A, 16 November 2021

Education and Credentials

Levine received his bachelor’s degree from Washington and Jefferson College in 1963, and several years later received his Doctor of Medicine degree from Case Western Reserve University in 1967. He then completed his psychiatric residency at the University Hospitals of Cleveland in 1973, shortly after becoming an assistant professor there. He eventually earned tenure in 1982, and became a full professor in 1985.

In 1974, Levine co-founded the gender identity clinic at Case Western Reserve University.

He has received many awards throughout his career, including the Society for Sex Therapy and Research's Masters and Johnson Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005, and becoming a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychological Association in the same year.

Colleagues and Ideological Affiliates

Levine has directly collaborated with noted conversion therapist Kenneth Zucker and founder of autogynephilia Ray Blanchard, drafting an article on gender dysphoria for the DSM-IV. He chaired the committee that produced the 1998 Harry Benjamin Standard of Care (a precursor to WPATH) for what was then called gender identity disorder. The committee was notable for including Anne Lawrence, a longtime proponent of Blanchard’s work on autogynephilia according to Andrea James of Transgender Map.

Levine has directly collaborated with the Alliance Defending Freedom in opposing transgender healthcare in the legal realm, and has appeared on Genspect’s website for a Q&A in which he publicly spoke in opposition to gender-affirming care. He has also appeared on National Review, discussing how he believes prominent trans-friendly scientist Jack Turban is engaging in bad science.

Core Activism Description

Levine’s primary work in opposition to transgender rights has been in academia, where he has published dozens of articles on trans individuals, out of hundreds of total publications. He covers topics primarily focused on the health and well-being of trans folks undergoing a gender transition, a process which he believes to be lacking in adequate research and as such needs to be halted or severely limited.

Other works feature promotions of Lisa Littman’s work on rapid-onset gender dysphoria, a concept which has been widely disputed in the medical literature and lacks substantial academic grounding.

His earliest work focused on his view of the causes and ‘solutions’ for transgender care, viewing being trans as a failure of a maternal-child relationship, and presenting psychotherapy as the solution in all but a small handful of exception cases.

Levine presents himself as an expert on trans issues who is speaking from a place of professional and ethical concern such as in his appearances on Genspect’s website, the PUBLIC podcast, Humanize Today Podcast, and the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Court and Legislative Appearances

Levine is also notable for making frequent appearances in courtrooms across the country as an expert witness, being cited as a reason to view gender affirming care with skepticism. For example, he was cited in news articles as advocating for the Arkansas Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act, which sought to prohibit transgender care for minors.

He has also provided an expert affidavit to the state of Wisconsin in B.F. et al. vs. Kettle Moraine School District opposing transgender healthcare for minors in addition to an expert report in B.P.J. vs. West Virginia State Board of Education. He appeared as an expert in Doe et al vs. Madison Metropolitan School District under a similar vein. 

Levine has testified to the Florida House of Representatives about what he believes are the primary harms with gender affirming care being provided to youth. He also testified to Pennsylvania, covering much of the same topic but narrowing his focus onto their discussion of whether to provide funding for transgender youth care, which he opposes.

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