President-elect Joe Biden has picked Rachel Levine to become assistant secretary for health.

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Levine would become the first openly transgender Senate-confirmed federal official.

Levine currently serves as the Pennsylvania secretary of health and as a professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the Penn State College of Medicine. In her capacity as state secretary of health, Levine leads Pennsylvania's response to COVID-19.

In a statement, Biden said that Levine was needed to help shepherd the United States through the coronavirus 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,” Biden said. “She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration's health efforts.”

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, applauded Levine's nomination.

“Dr. Rachel Levine, a highly experienced and qualified public health leader, has led Pennsylvania’s public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic superbly,” HRC President Alphonso David said in a statement. “At a time when access to health care is a growing crisis for transgender people made worse by anti-LGBTQ legislation and legislators across the nation, Dr. Levine has the empathy to understand the health needs of our diverse country and the skillset to improve them.”

Biden has also nominated Pete Buttigieg, a gay man, to serve as secretary of transportation.

(Related: Biden names Ned Price, a gay man, as State Department spokesperson.)