Dr. Rachel Levine Makes History as First Openly Transgender Federal Official to Win Senate Confirmation

The United States Senate confirmed Dr. Rachel Levine as the assistant secretary of health, becoming the first openly transgender federal official confirmed by the chamber.

On March 24, the Senate voted 52-48 in favor of Levine, a pediatrician who had previously served as the Pennsylvania health secretary since 2017.

“The confirmation of Rachel Levine represents another important milestone for the American LGBTQ community,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said.

“As transgender Americans suffer higher rates of abuse, homelessness, and depression than almost every other group, it’s important to have national figures like Dr. Levine who by virtue of being in the public spotlight will help break down barriers of ignorance and fear,” Schumer further said.

“I’m proud to vote for Dr. Levine and incredibly proud of the progress this confirmation will represent, for our country, and for transgender people all across it who are watching today,” Senator Patty Murray said before the vote.

Murray also said that the government “should reflect the people it serves.”

During her service as Pennsylvania’s top health official, Levine led the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

President Joe Biden said when he had nominated Levine last January that she “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.”

However, when Pennsylvanian Republican Senator voted against Levine’s confirmation, he said that the pandemic struck seniors in nursing homes in the state “disproportionately hard compared to other states” partly due to “poor decisions and oversight by Dr. Levine” and Governor Tom Wolf.

As assistant health secretary, Levine is expected to oversee the offices and programs of the Department of Health and Human Services across the U.S.

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