Joe Biden Selects Pennsylvania’s Dr. Rachel Levine to be Assistant Secretary of Health; Why It Matters
President-elect Joe Biden has tapped Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine to be his assistant secretary of health, leaving her poised to become the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the Senate.
This monumental moment in LGBTQ+ history for our state and our nation. At the start of the pandemic last year, Levine became a regular figure on our television screens as she has led the commonwealth's efforts to combat COVID-19.
Of course, there has also been a ton of vitriol thrown at this accomplished scientist. I have been disheartened to see the transphobic attacks that she has faced this year online. These, of course, represent the attacks that so many members of the trans community face each and every day. Levine responded tactfully to those attacks (which were filled with vitrol).
Her leadership and expertise throughout the pandemic have helped keep Pennsylvanians safe.
Levine, 63, for her part is an incredible professional. She's a pediatrician and former Pennsylvania physician general, who was appointed to her current post by Gov. Tom Wolf in 2017. She's a respected expert on the opioid crisis, eating disorders, and more. So it's no wonder why President-elect Joe Biden has selected her to a national post.
“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. “She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts.”
Dr. Levine's compassion and level-head leadership have increased the visibility of transgender individuals in the commonwealth throughout the pandemic. So Pennsylvania will certainly miss Levine's expertise, but I'm excited for her future and what it says for our country.
The Associated Press Contributed to this report.