On March 24, the U.S. Senate confirmed Dr. Rachel Levine as assistant secretary for health in the Department of Health and Human Servicesmaking her the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by that governmental body.
The vote was 52-48 to confirm Levine.
Levine was previously Pennsylvania's secretary of health, where she led the commonwealth's COVID-19 response, according to NPR. She began her medical career as a pediatrician at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, and she is a professor at the Penn State College of Medicine, where she teaches on topics such as adolescent medicine, eating disorders and transgender medicine.
Several pro-LGBTQ groups issued statements praising Levine's confirmation. National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund Policy Director Liz Seaton said of Levine, "Her qualifications as a physician and surgeon general of Pennsylvania and her experience dealing with the public health issues affecting our country today made her an incredibly qualified candidate for this position. Our country will be in good hands as we face unprecedented health challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic to the epidemic of opioid addiction and the longstanding HIV/AIDS epidemic."
Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David said, "It is a historic, inspiring day for the LGBTQ community, particularly transgender people, who are finally able to see themselves reflected at the highest levels of our government. With the confirmation of Dr. Rachel Levine, we are one step closer to a government that mirrors the beautiful diversity of its people. It is absolutely critical that everybody has a seat at the table and the Biden-Harris administration has made a dedicated, applaudable effort to ensure that outcome."
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates CEO Erin Uritus said, "Today, with Dr. Rachel Levine's historic confirmation, transgender Americans will be able to see themselves in a position of profound leadership. Dr. Levine's confirmation is more important than ever. Her leadership and expertise will help guide our country out of the COVID-19 pandemic into healthier, brighter days."
And National Center for Lesbian Rights Legal Director Shannon Minter commented, "As a transgender person, I am encouraged by her success and proud to see so many transgender people stepping up to dedicate their experience and expertise to public service. I look forward to the day when every young person can grow up knowing that every path is open to them and that they will not be held back or limited simply because of who they are."