President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s health secretary, to serve as assistant health secretary.
Levine, a pediatrician by training, would be the first ever openly transgender federal official 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,” said Biden in a statement.
“She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts.”
She has risen to national prominence last year as the public face of Pennsylvania’s Covid-19 response, despite repeated and ugly attacks on her gender identity.
Levine spearheaded an adolescent health clinic at Penn State, and then was appointed as physician general by the state’s governor, Tom Wolf, before unanimously confirmed as secretary of health in 2017.
The position made her one of only a handful of transgender officials serving in elected or appointed offices nationwide at the time.
“President-elect Biden said throughout his campaign that his administration would represent America,” Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality said.
“Today, he made clear that transgender people are an important part of our country.”
“She has demonstrated her commitment to public service and is highly skilled. She has earned the chance to serve our country at the highest levels,” Keisling added.
Levine said she is proud of the work she did to address health, as well as the LGBTQ equity issues in the state, adding that she is honored to have served Pennsylvanians.
“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 said.