Politics

Senate confirms Dr. Rachel Levine, making Levine first transgender cabinet offical in American history

Dr. Rachel Levine has recently been confirmed by the Senate as the official Secretary of Health & Human Services for the Biden Administration, making Levine the first transgender cabinet official.

On Wednesday March 24th Dr. Rachel Levine became the assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services. This makes Dr. Levine the first openly transgendered federal official that has been confirmed by the senate. Levine was confirmed 52-48, largely along party lines.

Some people have applauded Dr. Levine’s confirmation such as Senate Majority Chuck Schumer. He went on to say, “As transgender Americans suffer higher rates of abuse, homelessness and depression than almost every other group, it’s important to have national figures like Dr. Levine who, by virtue of being in the public spotlight, will help break down barriers of ignorance and fear.” The Human Rights Campaign tweeted “History made: Dr. Rachel Levine was just confirmed as the next Assistant Secretary for Health, becoming the first-ever openly transgender federal official confirmed by the Senate. Trans people are leaders, innovators and change-makers — and we deserve a seat at every table.” 

The Washington Post reports a quote from Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, who served in the Obama administration and was the first openly transgender official to work in the white house “I firmly believe that turning points, such as today’s Senate confirmation vote for Dr. Levine’s appointment, are powerful indications that this nation is truly heading down the pathway to lasting transgender equality,” 

In 2017 Levine was appointed as Pennsylvania’s health’s secretary by Democratic Governor Tom Wolf. Levine’s confirmation was won by the republican majority Pennsylvania senate. However, Senator Pat Toomey a PA Republican did not vote towards Levine’s confirmation, Fox43.com reports.  Tom Wolf went on record saying, “In Pennsylvania, the pandemic struck seniors in nursing homes disproportionately hard compared to other states,” Toomey said. “This was due in part to poor decisions and oversight by Dr. Levine and the Wolf administration.” 

During the confirmation hearing Senator Rand Paul said, “For most of our history, we have believed that minors don’t have full rights and that parents need to be involved,” Paul said Thursday. “We should be outraged that someone’s talking to a 3-year-old about changing their sex.” Senator Rand Paul then questioned Dr. Levine on whether or not minors should have access to puberty blocking drugs and hormone therapy. Senator Rand Paul later took to twitter and tweeted “Biden nominee refuses to answer my question about whether the government should override a parent’s consent to allow a minor to receive puberty blockers or surgical amputation of breasts or genitalia. According to Philly Voice, “Levine has not advocated gender reassignment surgeries for children, though she is in favor of protocols to start  hormone therapy for young patients, including giving patients medications that block puberty followed by hormone treatments,”

Rachel Levine released a statement after her confirmation:

“I am honored that the U.S. Senate has voted in favor of my nomination to be Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services. I am grateful to President Biden and Vice President Harris for nominating me to this important post. I look forward to working under the leadership of Secretary Becerra and ensuring that we promote policies that advance the health and wellbeing of all Americans.

As I prepare to take my oath of office and begin serving as Assistant Secretary for Health, I would like to take this opportunity to address members of the LGBTQ community. First, thank you. Only through your work and advocacy over many decades is my story possible. I am humbled to be the first transgender individual to serve in a Senate-confirmed position. As Vice President Harris has said, I recognize that I may be the first, but am heartened by the knowledge that I will not be the last. When I assume this position, I will stand on the shoulders of those who came before- people we know throughout history and those whose names we will never know because they were forced to live and work in the shadows.

In particular, I want to address transgender youth. I know that each and every day you confront many difficult challenges. Sadly, some of the challenges you face are from people who would seek to use your identity and circumstance as a weapon. It hurts. I know. I cannot promise you that these attacks will immediately cease, but I will do everything I can to support you and advocate for you. President Obama often reminded us that not all progress goes in a straight line. What I can tell you is that there is a place for you in America and in our government. Our ‘more perfect union’ includes you, too.”

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ARTICLE: ASHLEY MOORE

US NEWS EDITOR: CARSON WOLF

PHOTO CREDITS: AP NEWS

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