Dr Rachel Levine has become the first openly transgender person confirmed to a senior US government position by the Senate.
On Wednesday (US time), the Senate confirmed Dr Levine as the Biden Administration’s Assistant Secretary of Health 52 votes to 48.
Before her nomination in January, the trained paediatrician headed the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
“When I assume this position, I will stand on the shoulders of those who came before,” Dr Levine said.
“[The shoulders of] people we know throughout history and those whose names we will never know because they were forced to live and work in the shadows.
“In particular, I want to address transgender youth. I know that each and every day you confront many difficult challenges.
“Sadly, some of the challenges you face are from people who would seek to use your identity and circumstance as a weapon. It hurts. I know.
“I cannot promise you that these attacks will immediately cease.
“But I will do everything I can to support you and advocate for you.”
US President Joe Biden says Rachel Levine a ‘historic and deeply qualified choice’
In January, US President Joe Biden called Dr Rachel Levine “a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts.”
The 63-year-old is the only transgender person the US Senate has ever confirmed.
All but two of the Republican Party’s senator voted against Dr Levine’s nomination.
After Dr Levine’s confirmation, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also acknowledged the “important milestone for the American LGBTQ community”.
He said transgender Americans suffer “higher rates of abuse, homelessness and depression than almost every other group.”
“It’s important to have national figures like Dr Levine who by virtue of being in the public spotlight will help break down barriers of ignorance and fear,” Schumer said.
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