US President-elect Joe Biden last night announced the selection of Dr Rachel Levine as assistant Health Secretary. If all goes to plan, that will make Dr Levine the first openly transgender federal official confirmed by the US Senate.
Governor Tom Wolff appointed Dr Levine to the position of Pennsylvania Health Secretary in 2017. A pediatrician, Dr Levine was previously state Physician-General. To become Health Secretary, she passed confirmation by the state Senate, a Republican-dominated body. She since became the public face of Pennsylvania’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Joe Biden acknowledged the historic nature of the nomination in his announcement.
“Dr Rachel Levine will bring the steady leadership and essential expertise we need to get people through this pandemic — no matter their zip code, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability — and meet the public health needs of our country in this critical moment and beyond.
“She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts.”
Dr Rachel Levine
Originally from Massachusetts, Dr Levine graduated from Harvard College and the Tulane University School of Medicine. She then moved to Pennsylvania in 1993. Married with two children, she transitioned in 2011. She and her former wife then divorced in 2013. Then in 2015, Governor Wolff nominated her for the position of Physician-General. That same year, she served as Grand Marshal of the Philadelphia Pride Parade. She has also served as a board member of Equality Pennsylvania.
Democratic member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and the state’s first openly gay elected legislator, Brian Sims, took to Twitter to congratulate Dr Levine.
“Dr Levine is a world-class public health expert and a history-making transgender woman whose leadership has saved thousands of lives.”
Brian Sims also provided a safe space for people who couldn’t see past Dr Levine’s gender to her contribution to better health outcomes for Pennsylvanians.
SAFE SPACE: Here, I’ve created a safe space for everyone who believes so much in American exceptionalism that they can’t stop thinking about someone else’s gender. Melting down? Triggered? No reason to spew hatred all over this country you say you love. Use it here. pic.twitter.com/lHBUyjHSev
— Brian Sims (@BrianSimsPA) January 19, 2021
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