President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Dr. Rachel Levine as his assistant secretary of health. This nomination is historic: Dr. Levine would be the first openly transgender person to hold an office that required confirmation by the Senate.
Dr. Levine currently serves as the Secretary of Health for Pennsylvania. She was first confirmed in 2015 without controversy, stating at the time that her gender identity had never really been an issue for her. However, in 2020, following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and Pennsylvania’s response under her guidance, her increased profile led to frequent transphobic attacks on her from rural regions of the state.
President-elect Biden called Dr. Levine a “deeply qualified” candidate and pointed to her three previous confirmations by the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania state legislature as evidence to why her confirmation to this role should be wholly uncontroversial. Dr. Levine would be the highest-ranking federal employee who is openly transgender if she is confirmed to the role.