Biden's pick for assistant health secretary would be the first transgender person confirmed by the Senate
Joe Bidenon Tuesday selected Dr. Rachel Levineas his nominee for assistant health secretary.
- Levine is a physician who is currently serving as Pennsylvania's secretary of health.
- If confirmed, Levine would be the first transgender person confirmed by the US Senate.
President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday announced his intention to nominate Dr. Rachel Levine, a physician and Pennsylvania's current secretary of health, to serve as assistant health secretary in his administration. Levine would be the first transgender person to serve in the Cabinet and the first to be confirmed by the US Senate.
"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 Tuesday. "She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration's health efforts."
As the state's health secretary, Levine led the state of Pennsylvania's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the helm of the state's response, Levine last year faced transphobic attacks from people in the state who disagreed with her measures to curb the spread of the disease. But her work was praised by the state's governor, who spoke out against transphobia last year, the Pittsburgh City Paper reported.
"I have no room in my heart for hatred, and frankly I do not have time for intolerance," Levine said in July 2020, in response to continued attacks on her identity. "My heart is full with a burning desire to help people and my time is full with working toward protecting the public health of everyone in Pennsylvania from the impact of the global pandemic due to COVID-19."
Levine, who was appointed to her current role by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, in 2017, was confirmed by a Republican-controlled state senate three times, as the president-elect's transition team noted in its
Levine, 64, is a graduate of Harvard College and the Tulane University School of Medicine and is the president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. She's also a professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the Penn State College of Medicine.
Levine will join Biden's team of cabinet secretaries and advisers he's announced over the past several months that will lead his response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
As Insider previously reported, the Biden administration is shaping up to be the most diverse so far in US history, particularly in terms of racial and ethnic diversity. About half of the incoming president's cabinet and staff including people of color, many of whom are the first of their background to serve in a president's administration.
In addition to Levine, the Biden-Harris team has previously announced the president-elect's intention to nominate other LGBTQ people to high-ranking positions. Pete Buttigieg, who Biden intends to nominate as transportation secretary, will be the first openly gay person to lead a department in the Cabinet. Karine Jean-Pierre will be the first openly lesbian person to serve as the chief of staff to a vice president.
Biden's cabinet picks need approval by a majority of the US Senate. With Democrat wins in Georgia in both Senate races earlier in January, Democrats hold exactly half of the seats in the Senate. Vice President-elect
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