President-elect Joe Biden announced that he will be appointing Pennsylvania Surgeon General Dr. Rachel Levine to be his assistant secretary of health, leaving her poised to become the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
A pediatrician and former Pennsylvania physician general, Levine was appointed to her current post by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf in 2017, making her one of the few transgender people serving in elected or appointed positions nationwide.
“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.”
Levine, the president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, has emerged as the public face of Pennsylvania’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. A graduate of Harvard and of Tulane Medical School, she has written in the past on the opioid crisis, medical marijuana, adolescent medicine, eating disorders and LGBTQ medicine.
Levine joins Biden’s Health and Human Services secretary nominee Xavier Becerra, a Latino politician who rose from humble beginnings to serve in Congress and as California’s attorney general.
“Dr. Rachel Levine is 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,” said Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in a statement. “President-elect Biden and I look forward to working with her to meet the unprecedented challenges facing Americans and rebuild our country in a way that lifts everyone up.”