Biden announces Rachel Levine as pick for assistant secretary at HHS, would be first transgender Senate-confirmed federal official


President-elect Joe Biden has tapped Dr. Rachel Levine to serve as Assistant Secretary for Health at the United States Department of Health and Human Services who will be the first transgender federal official to be confirmed by the US Senate. Dr. Levine currently serves as Secretary of Health for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and is leading the state’s public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chandelis Duster, CNN

(CNN) — President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Dr. Rachel Levine to serve as assistant health secretary, and she would make history as the first out, transgender federal official to be confirmed by the United States Senate, according to a statement Tuesday.

Levine is currently the Pennsylvania health secretary and a pediatrics and psychiatry professor at Penn State College of Medicine. She served as the state’s physician general in 2015 and assistant health secretary in 2017. Levine was confirmed as the state’s health secretary in 2018 under Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration.

Throughout her career, Levine has written about the opioid crisis, LGBTQ medicine, medicinal marijuana, eating disorders and adolescent medicine. She graduated from Harvard College and the Tulane University School of Medicine and completed her training in Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at the Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

“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. “She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts.”

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris praised Levine as “a remarkable public servant with the knowledge and experience” to help contain the coronavirus pandemic and “protect and improve the health and well-being of the American people.”

Levine joins other Biden administration nominees who would make history if confirmed by the Senate to serve in top roles, including California Attorney General Xavier Becerra who has been tapped to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. Becerra would be the first Latino to lead the department if confirmed by the Senate.

In December, Biden nominated former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg to be his transportation secretary. Buttigieg would be the first Senate-confirmed LGBTQ Cabinet secretary should his nomination make it through the chamber.

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