The U.S. Senate on Wednesday confirmed
the nomination of Rachel Levine, President Joe Biden's pick as
assistant secretary of health.
Levine is the first transgender person
to be confirmed by the Senate as a presidential appointee.
Two Republicans, Senators Susan Collins
of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, joined Democrats in confirming
Levine recognized the historic
significance of her appointment.
“As I prepare to take my oath of
office and begin serving as assistant secretary for health, I would
like to take this opportunity to address members of the LGBTQ
community,” Levine said in a statement. “First, thank you. Only
through your work and advocacy over many decades is my story
possible. I am humbled to be the first transgender individual to
serve in a Senate-confirmed position. As Vice President Harris has
said, I recognize that I may be the first, but am heartened by the
knowledge that I will not be the last.”
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the
nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, called Wednesday's vote
“inspiring” for the LGBT community.
“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,” HRC President Alphonso David said in a statement.
“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.”
“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-conforming people, Dr. Levine has the compassion and
understanding to improve the health needs of our diverse and growing
“The Human Rights Campaign
congratulates Dr. Levine on her historic confirmation today,” he
As assistant secretary of health,
Levine will oversee Biden's plan to end the coronavirus pandemic in
the United States. She will also continue efforts to end the HIV
epidemic. According to the CDC, an estimated 1.2 million Americans
were living with HIV at the end of 2018, according to the agency's
most recent data.
Levine previously was confirmed twice
as Pennsylvania's secretary of health. She is also a professor at the
Penn State College of Medicine.