The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Dr. Rachel Levine as assistant secretary of health at the Department of Health and Human Services, the first out transgender federal official to be confirmed by the chamber.
GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska joined all Democrats in voting yes. The final vote was 52-48.
“The confirmation of Rachel Levine represents another important milestone for the American LGBTQ community,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said. “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 celebrated the landmark confirmation of Dr. Levine, a pediatrician who previously served as Pennsylvania’s secretary of health and as physician general.
“It is a historic, inspiring day for the LGBTQ community, particularly transgender people, who are finally able to see themselves reflected at the highest levels of our government,” the HRC said in a press release. With the confirmation of Dr. Rachel Levine, we are one step closer to a government that mirrors the beautiful diversity of its people. It is absolutely critical that everybody has a seat at the table and the Biden-Harris administration has made a dedicated, applaudable effort to ensure that outcome. As an incredibly experienced public health expert, Dr. Rachel Levine is uniquely qualified to help navigate the country through the COVID-19 pandemic. Her professional background and personal strength perfectly meets this moment.”
The statement continued: “At a time when transgender children are under attack by state legislatures across the U.S., and access to healthcare is systematically threatened for transgender and gender non-conforing people, Dr. Levine has the compassion and understanding to improve the health needs of our diverse and growing population. The Human Rights Campaign congratulates Dr. Levine on her historic confirmation today.”