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PA’s Rachel Levine makes history with Senate confirmation

By: Adam Beam 4/2/21

Photo Courtesy: Caroline Brehman/Pool/Getty Images

With her approval, the Biden administration once again makes history as last week we saw the confirmation of Pennsylvania's very own Rachel Levine, as assistant secretary for health in the Department of Health and Human Services.

With her confirmation Levine is now the first openly transgender official to be confirmed by The Senate, and was confirmed by a vote of 52-48.

Levine was most notably Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health, as she led the state’s COVID-19 response. During her time as Secretary of Health in Pennsylvania she was met with “relentless comments and slurs” as Tom Wolf spoke of last summer.

However, Levine would be nominated by Joe Biden back in January. As he put it, Levine would “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."

When the Senate voted on Levine’s nomination she was met with overwhelming support by the Democrats, Senator Patty Murray of Washington state spoke of Levine’s importance in the matters of LGBTQ+ sciences and other related health areas.

However, Levine’s road to her new position was not easy. As previously stated she was met with heavy criticism during her time in Pennsylvania. When she faced the House for her confirmation hearing, it was Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky that hit her with the heaviest questioning. His main targets being how she felt towards minors being capable of making such decisions as “sex reassignment and genital mutililation.”

Levine’s response was as follows, "Transgender medicine is a very complex and nuanced field with robust research and standards of care that have been developed and, if I am fortunate enough to be confirmed as the assistant secretary of health, I will look forward to working with you and your office and coming to your office and discussing the particulars of the standards of care for transgender medicine."

Levine is just another historic member of Joe Biden’s growing and diversified cabinet.

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