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.
President-elect Biden has nominated Dr. Levine to serve as Assistant HHS Secretary. A deeply experienced public servant and public health expert, she is poised to become the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.https://t.co/REmjFd98Hl
— Biden-Harris Presidential Transition (@Transition46) January 19, 2021
“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.”
DR. RACHEL LEVINE! Joe Biden has chosen PA Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine to serve as Assistant Health Secretary! Dr. Levine is a world class public health expert and a history making transgender woman who’s leadership has saved thousands of lives.https://t.co/6DiNE8OU3b
— Brian Sims (@BrianSimsPA) January 19, 2021
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.”
We are working on ways to increase access to #COVID19 #vaccine + pharmacists already play an important role in making sure Pennsylvanians are protected. Pa'ians continue to play an essential role in preventing the spread of COVID-19 by masking up, washing up + social distancing. https://t.co/p00cO4slbE
— Dr. Rachel Levine (@SecretaryLevine) January 14, 2021
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.”