Meet the First Openly Trans Government Official to Be Confirmed by Senate

Joe Biden discussing COVID-19 crisis

Dr. Rachel Levine is about to make history: she is President Joe Biden's choice for Assistant Secretary of Health, and she stands to be the first out transgender federal official to be confirmed by the United States Senate.

On his pick of Levine, who has served as the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health since 2017, Biden said in a statement: “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.”

The 63-year-old pediatrician graduated from Harvard College and the Tulane University School of Medicine and has helped make great strides in combating the opioid crisis in America. Most recently, she's been instrumental in the coronavirus response in Pennsylvania. Medical professionals told WITF broadcast that Levine's guidance amid the pandemic "has been led with calm expertise – at times widely outpacing the efforts of the federal government."

Dr. Nirmal Joshi, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Mount Nittany Health System, told the outlet that the steadfast Levine’s department was, at times, "the only source of guidance for medical professionals."

“The Department of Health is the only agency up until a week ago where we could get tests done,” he said in March 2020. “Even now both in guidance and testing, it is still the fastest way.”

As per AP, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris also commended Levine's nomination and called her “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.”

Levine being tapped comes amid reports that the Biden team plans to appoint to Office of Personnel Management a team of "more than 85%"  people of color, women, or members of the LGBTQ community.


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