Biden has named state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine as his assistant health secretary, putting her on track to become the first openly transgender official to face confirmation by the U.S. Senate. The news was first reported by the Associated Press. Levine currently serves as Pennsylvania's Health Secretary.
In a statement, Biden said Levine, a pediatrician by training, 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.”
WASHINGTON (@AP) — 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 U.S. Senate.— Marc Levy (@timelywriter) January 19, 2021
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris called Levine “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. 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.”
Levine was named the state’s physician general in 2015 by Gov. Tom Wolf, ascending to acting health secretary in 2017. She won state Senate confirmation as health secretary in 2018.
Levine has faced both criticism and praise for her management of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Keystone State. As a transgender woman, she’s been the subject of online bigotry that she’s forcefully batted back.
John Micek is the editor of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, where this story first appeared.