On Tuesday, President Joe Biden nominated Pennsylvania health secretary Dr. Rachel Levine as the assistant health secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). If confirmed by the Senate, Levine will be the first transgender woman to hold the position.
Levine was appointed to her current post by Gov. Tom Wolf in 2017 and has been at the forefront of Pennsylvania’s response to the pandemic. At the time of her appointment, she was one of only a few transgender officials serving in such a position. The November 2020 election saw a record number of transgender and non-binary legislators elected across the country.
“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,” a statement released by Biden’s team read.
During her time serving at the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Levine addressed the opioid crisis, medical marijuana, eating disorders, adolescent medicine, LGBTQ health, and fighting diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C.
“I am proud of the work we have done as an administration to address health equity,and the work I have done personally to raise awareness about LGBTQ equity issues,” said Dr. Levine in a statement. “And I am extremely proud of the work we have done during the last year to save lives in the face of the COVID-19 global pandemic. I look forward to the opportunity to continue to serve Pennsylvanians, and all Americans, as part of the Biden Administration if I am fortunate enough to be confirmed to this position.”