Biden picks transgender woman Rachel Levine for federal health post

Washington DC - President-elect Joe Biden has chosen Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine as his assistant secretary of health. She will become the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the US Senate.

Dr. Rachel Levine is set to become the first transgender federal official to be confirmed by the Senate.
Dr. Rachel Levine is set to become the first transgender federal official to be confirmed by the Senate.  © imago images / ZUMA Wire

Levine, a pediatrician by training, was appointed as physician general by Democratic Governor of Pennsylvania Tom Wolf and confirmed as secretary of health in 2017, making her one of the first transgender people serving in elected or appointed positions nationwide.

Over the last year, Levine has become the public face of Pennsylvania's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

"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.

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"She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts," he continued.

A graduate of Harvard and Tulane Medical School, Levine is president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. She has raised awareness in the past about the opioid crisis, medical marijuana, adolescent medicine, eating disorders, and LGBTQ equity issues in the public health sector.

In a statement, Levine said she was proud of the work she had done in Pennsylvania and was honored to take on the new position alongside Joe Biden.

"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," she wrote.

Cover photo: imago images / ZUMA Wire

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