President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Dr. Rachel Levine to be assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. If confirmed, she’d be the first openly transgender federal official to get a Senate nod.
Levine is now Pennsylvania’s secretary of health, which means she’s in charge of how that state is handling the COVID-19 pandemic.
“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. She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts,” Biden said in a written statement.
She is also a professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the Penn State College of Medicine and previously served as Pennsylvania’s acting secretary of health and the state’s physician general. Levine has degrees from Harvard College and the Tulane University School of Medicine and completed her training in pediatrics and adolescent medicine at New York City’s Mt. Sinai Medical Center.
Biden points out that Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled state senate confirmed her three times in her career as a state public-health official.
Levine was in the national spotlight in August when Jenna Ellis, a campaign adviser for President Donald Trump, referred to her as “this guy” on Twitter. The tweet was in response to a news story about Levine telling a Pittsburgh radio journalist to stop misgendering her by repeatedly calling her “sir.”
Last month, the president-elect picked California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to be HHS secretary.