Dr. Rachel Levine has been confirmed by the Senate to function Biden’s Assistant Secretary of Well being, making historical past the primary overtly transgender individual to be confirmed by the Senate and the very best overtly transgender authorities official.
The Senate confirmed it by 52 votes to 48.
Together with Democrats, Levine was backed by reasonable Republicans Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.
Levine – who served as Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Well being, the state’s prime well being official – now turns into No. 2 within the Division of Well being and Human Providers, the place she is going to serve immediately underneath the newly appointed secretary. confirmed Xavier Becerra.
She is going to be part of HHS because the division seeks to take care of each the COVID-19 pandemic and the inflow of immigrant youngsters crossing the southern border.
Senate Well being, Schooling, Work and Pensions Committee chair Senator Patty Murray praised Levine’s expertise within the Senate forward of the vote, highlighting his work on Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 response.
“Dr. Levine has been on the entrance strains of this pandemic, which is why she is aware of firsthand what our states and communities want from the Division of Well being and Human Providers,” Murray mentioned.
She additionally highlighted the historic nature of Levine’s affirmation for the transgender group.
“I’ve at all times mentioned that the folks in our authorities ought to replicate the folks it serves, and as we speak we’ll take one other historic step to make it a actuality,” Murray mentioned.
Previous to taking on as the pinnacle of the Pennsylvania Division of Well being, Levine served because the state’s doctor normal. She is a skilled pediatrician who graduated from Harvard and Tulane College.
Throughout his affirmation listening to final month, Levine vowed to battle for higher entry to well being look after all.
At that listening to, she was confronted with a collection of questions from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Who misrepresents transgender folks and equates gender affirmation surgical procedures with “genital mutilation.”
All through his collection of questions, Paul repeatedly requested Levine if she believed minors ought to be capable to make selections to “amputate their breasts or amputate their genitals”.
Levine responded by committing to satisfy with Paul, an ophthalmologist, to debate transgender drugs.
“Transgender drugs is a really advanced and nuanced discipline,” Levine mentioned. “We’ve got stable analysis and requirements of care which have been developed, and if I’m lucky sufficient to be confirmed as Assistant Secretary of Well being, I stay up for working with you and coming to your workplace and focus on the small print of the requirements of caring for transgender drugs. “
Paul’s questioning wasn’t the primary time Levine has confronted challenges as a result of she is a transgender girl.
Levine rose to prominence in Pennsylvania final 12 months when well being officers throughout the nation turned extra seen to the general public in efforts to battle the coronavirus.
The social media assaults on Levine received vicious sufficient final summer time that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf berated them in a press release.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has put hatred and transphobia within the highlight with relentless feedback and slurs directed at Secretary of Well being Dr. Rachel Levine, who’s a extremely certified, valued and succesful member of my administration and transgender, ”mentioned Wolf. “Dr. Levine is a distinguished and completed public servant. She is dedicated to making sure the protection and well being of Pennsylvanians, even those that direct hateful assaults in opposition to her.
Levine responded to the transphobic feedback in July by promising to remain centered on combating the pandemic.
“I haven’t got room in my coronary heart for hate, and albeit I haven’t got time for intolerance,” Levine mentioned at a press convention in July. “My coronary heart is crammed with a burning need to assist folks, and I dedicate quite a lot of time to working to guard the general public well being of everybody in Pennsylvania. I’ll keep centered on this objective. ”
Cheyenne Haslett of ABC Information contributed to this report.