Biden Selects Transgender Doctor Rachel Levine As Assistant Health Secretary
By John Wagner, Teo Armus and Samantha Schmidt
|Doctor Rachel Levine|
Assistant Health Secretary
January 19, 2021
President-elect Joe Biden announced Tuesday that he will nominate Pennsylvania’s top health official, Rachel Levine, to be his assistant secretary of health. Levine, a pediatrician, would become the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
“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.”
Levine serves as Pennsylvania’s secretary of health and has been leading the state’s public health response to the coronavirus pandemic. Biden’s transition team noted that Levine — appointed by Gov. Tom Wolf (D) in 2017 as acting health secretary — was confirmed three times by the Republican-controlled state Senate to serve as secretary of health and the state’s physician general.
At the time, she was one of only a handful of transgender officials serving in elected or appointed offices nationwide. If confirmed as assistant secretary of health, Levine would be the highest ranking transgender official in the US government.