Published: Wed, January 20, 2021
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Biden selects transgender woman to serve as his assistant secretary of health

Biden selects transgender woman to serve as his assistant secretary of health

Biden points out that Pennsylvania's Republican-controlled state senate confirmed her three times in her career as a state public-health official.

President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday named Dr Rachel Levine to service as assistant United States health secretary, a historic first as Levine would become the first openly transgender official to be confirmed by the Senate.

"She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration's health efforts", the president-elect said in a statement.

Levine is now the secretary of health in Pennsylvania, where she leads the state's fight against COVID-19. She's tasked with helping to lead the state response to the COVID-19 pandemic, urging state residents in November to don face masks at home just as new cases were surging again.

Choosing Levine as the first transgender federal official in the USA signals Biden's commitment to an LGBT agenda push during his time in office. She's written in the past on the opioid crisis, medical marijuana, adolescent medicine, eating disorders and LGBTQ medicine.

Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine, meets with the media May 29, 2020.


Like Becerra, Levine's nomination must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, which Biden's fellow Democrats narrowly control.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris called 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", the AP said.

Also, Levine moved her 95-year-old mother out of a personal care facility due to the pandemic - and then fell under scrutiny for the decision, PennLive reported last May.

"Pharmacies will be very important and necessary, but not sufficient", Levine said. She's also a professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the Penn State College of Medicine.

The Biden team has made a point of nominating a diverse Cabinet Pete Buttigieg - the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and a 2020 presidential contender - could join the administration as the transportation secretary, becoming the first openly gay Cabinet secretary, if his nomination is approved in the Senate. O'Connell most recently served as director of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and was the senior counselor and deputy chief of staff to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell during the Obama administration. "We need to get the vaccines into arms".

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