Joe Biden appoints transgender woman Dr Rachel Levine as Assistant Health Secretary

Joe Biden appoints transgender woman Dr Rachel Levine as assistant health secretary

Dr Rachel Levine

US President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Dr Rachel Levine to serve as Assistant Secretary for Health. She will become the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the US Senate.

Dr Levine, a paediatrician and public health expert, currently serves as Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health, and has been the leading public face of the state’s health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She won past confirmation by a Republican-majority Pennsylvania Senate for the position.

Currently, she’s one of the few openly transgender people serving in elected or appointed positions in the US.

President-elect Biden says Dr Levine is a “deeply qualified choice” to help lead his administration’s health strategy.

“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.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris called Dr Levine “a remarkable public servant with the knowledge and experience to help us contain this pandemic, and protect and improve the health and well-being of the American people.”

“President-elect Biden and I look forward to working with her to meet the unprecedented challenges facing Americans and rebuild our country in a way that lifts everyone up,” Harris said.

Dr Levine is a graduate of Harvard and of Tulane Medical School and is the president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Paediatrics, the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, and the Academy for Eating Disorders.

She is also an accomplished speaker, and is a published author on the opioid crisis, medical marijuana, adolescent medicine, eating disorders and LGBTQ+ medicine.

In a statement, Dr Levine thanked Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf for her time serving in his administration and listed some of the achievements she has been most proud of in her time as the state’s health secretary.

“Our work on addressing the opioid epidemic has saved lives and developed innovative models to get people into treatment and into recovery,” she said.

“I am proud of the work we have done to fight diseases such as HIV and Hep C, as well as preventing diseases through our childhood immunisation programs.

“I am proud of the work we have done as an administration to address health equity, and the work I have done personally to raise awareness about LGBTQ equity issues.

“I am extremely proud of the work we have done during the last year to save lives in the face of the COVID-19 global pandemic.”

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