Joe Biden Selects Transgender Health Official Rachel Levine for HHS
Biden praised Levine’s 'steady leadership and essential expertise' in a statement
Joe Biden has announced he has selected Dr. Rachel Levine as assistant secretary of health for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), according to reports.
Levine is openly transgender, and such a role would mark the first trans official confirmed by the United States Senate.
Currently, Levine is the Secretary of Health for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and oversees the response to the coronavirus pandemic in the state.
Biden praised Levine’s “steady leadership and essential expertise" in a statement:
“She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts."
Levine served as a public official in Pennsylvania, defending lockdowns and bans as a critical way to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Levine faced backlash after allowing “stable” coronavirus patients to be returned to nursing homes, where the virus skyrocketed among the elderly.
She was later called out for moving her own mother out of a nursing home despite the department’s guidance to admit “stable” patients.
Levine has frequently accused critics, mainly Republicans, of transphobia as the Secretary of health identified as a female rather than a male.
Last year, Democratic PA Gov. Tom Wolf accused Trump campaigner Jenna Ellis of "hate speech" after referring to Levine as a “guy” on Twitter.
In reference to PA Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, Ellis tweeted:
“This guy is making decisions about your health.”
This guy is making decisions about your health.https://t.co/gaqGBbXbOC— Jenna Ellis (@JennaEllisEsq) August 10, 2020
Gov. Wolf condemned Ellis in response, tweeting:
“To [Ellis] and whoever else needs to hear this: Misgendering a transgender person is hate speech, and it’s unacceptable.”
To @JennaEllisEsq and whoever else needs to hear this: Misgendering a transgender person is hate speech and it’s unacceptable.— Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) August 10, 2020
In May, Levine asked a reporter to not “misgender” him after the reporter addressed him as “sir.”
Levine also complained of “multiple incidents of LGBTQ harassment and specifically transphobia" in July.
“I want to emphasize that while these individuals think that they are only expressing their displeasure with me, they are, in fact, hurting the thousands of LGBTQ Pennsylvanians who suffer directly from these current demonstrations of harassment,” Levine said.
“Your actions perpetuate the spirit of intolerance and discrimination against LGBTQ individuals and specifically transgender individuals,” Levine added.
She also encourages Pennsylvanians to nurture the spirit of acceptance toward transgender people.
“Our children are watching. They are watching what we do, and they are watching how we act,” he said.
“And to all LGBTQ young people, it is okay to be you.”