President-elect Joe Biden has chosen Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s health secretary, as his assistant secretary of health. Levine would be the first ever openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the US Senate.
A pediatrician and former Pennsylvania physician general, Levine was appointed to her current post by Democratic Governor Tom Wolf in 2017, making her one of the few transgender people serving in elected or appointed positions nationwide. She won past confirmation by the Republican-majority Pennsylvania Senate and has emerged as the public face of the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
A graduate of Harvard and of Tulane Medical School, Levine is president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. She has written in the past on the opioid crisis, medical marijuana, adolescent medicine, eating disorders and LGBTQ medicine.
“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.”
In her new post, Levine would serve with Biden’s pick for health secretary, Xavier Becerra, and coronavirus response coordinator, Jeff Zients.