Biden Taps PA Trans Health Official For Assistant Health Secretary

Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine speaking at the virtual press conference. The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., March 20, that there are 83 additional positive cases of COVID-19 reported, bringing the statewide total to 268. County-specific information and a statewide map are available here. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital. Harrisburg, PA- March 20, 2020 / Image via Governor Tom Wolf Creative Commons)

A historic first has recently been announced by the incoming administration. The Biden Administration will be adding even more LGBTQ leaders within its ranks, this time the appointment will make history for transgender people.

President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Pennsylvania health expert Dr. Rachel Levine to be assistant secretary in the Department of Health and Human Services, as NPR reports. In 2015, Dr. Levine won a unanimous Pennsylvania Senate vote to be appointed as the state’s physician general. She later moved up to the secretary of health position. In addition, the health expert also works as a professor at the Penn State College of Medicine.

“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,” Biden said in a statement about the nomination. “She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts.”

“Dr. Rachel Levine is a remarkable public servant with the knowledge and experience to help us contain this pandemic, and protect and improve the health and well-being of the American people,” Vice President-elect Kamala Harris added. “President-elect Biden and I look forward to working with her to meet the unprecedented challenges facing Americans and rebuild our country in a way that lifts everyone up.”

Should Dr. Rachel Levine be approved by the U.S. Congress, she will be the first out transgender person to become a Senate-confirmed official in a senior position within the executive branch. Many LGBTQ rights groups and health organizations have applauded the choice.

Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, praised Levine’s nomination in a statement.

“Dr. Rachel Levine, a highly experienced and qualified public health leader, has led Pennsylvania’s public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic superbly,” David said. “At a time when access to health care is a growing crisis for transgender people made worse by anti-LGBTQ legislation and legislators across the nation, Dr. Levine has the empathy to understand the health needs of our diverse country and the skillset to improve them.”

The Los Angeles LGBT Center also issued this statement in celebration.

“We are deeply gratified by the historic nomination of Dr. Rachel Levine as Assistant Secretary of Health by President-elect Joe Biden. Dr. Levine’s qualifications and experience—leading the fifth largest state during a public health crisis—are self-evident,” the organization wrote. “Moreover, her appointment would bring a significant and desperately needed focus on access to health care for transgender people. Anti-LGBTQ legislation and administrative decisions were a hallmark of the Trump administration, and these actions have had a profoundly negative impact on the transgender community in particular. This nomination, if confirmed, is a historic step in addressing these issues.”

In the past few months, Dr. Levine has especially been focused on discussing the need for a stronger reaction to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It will be essential for the federal government to provide more funding to the states, territories and cities that will be tasked with administering the vaccine,” Levine told NPR in December. “I think that it really shows that we all have to work together and stand united to stop the spread of this virus.”


Source: NPR, The Washington Blade,

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