Joe Biden Chooses the First Transgender Woman for Senate


Photo Courtesy of: Google Images

Rachel Levine releasing a statement on her nomination.

Paulina Camacho, Journalist

Joe Biden nominated Pennsylvania Health Secretary, Rachel Levine, to be the first transgender woman to be confirmed to the Senate as his Assistant Health Secretary. She is one of the few openly transgender appointed government officials. She led the COVID-19 response for the state of Pennsylvania and has since encouraged precautionary measures to the public. 

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

Rachel Levine during her speech speaking out against transphobia. (Photo Courtesy of: Google Images)

Levine is a Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at Penn State College and the Health Secretary for Pennsylvania. She graduated from Harvard and Tulane University School of Medicine and completed a residency and fellowship in pediatrics at the Mount Sai Hospital. After studying pediatrics she joined the staff at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center where she then created the adolescent medicine division and eating disorders clinic. In 2015 she was nominated by Governor Tom Wolfe as Pennsylvania’s Physician’s General. During her time as Physician’s General, she signed an order for law enforcement officers to carry the anti-overdose drug, Naloxone, where she saved almost 1,000 opioid users from an overdose. In 2017 she was then appointed as Pennsylvania’s Health Secretary by Governor Wolfe. Levine has expressed her struggles of being transgender in a high position. She has faced transphobic attacks from disagreement of her measures to slow the spread of the virus in which not only Levine, but Governor Wolfe spoke out about. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought hate and transphobia into the spotlight through relentless comments and slurs directed at Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine, who is a highly-skilled, valued, and capable member of my administration and transgender,” Wolf wrote in a statement at the time. “The derogatory incident involving the Bloomsburg Fair is the latest of these vile acts, which by extension impact transgender people across the commonwealth and nation.” 

Levine, being chosen for cabinet, makes history for not only being the first transgender woman chosen but the most diverse cabinet the U.S. has ever had. The Senate is currently having hearings to confirm Biden’s cabinet where nominees will answer questions from Senate panels handling their confirmations.