Rachel Levine, the first openly transgender U.S. assistant secretary for health, is set to become the first openly transgender four-star officer in the service of the United States government according to the Washington Post.
The Biden administration announces that Rachel Levine, a biological man, is now the “first-ever female four-star admiral” in the public health corps pic.twitter.com/1JIa5Eh0vZ
— Amber Athey (@amber_athey) October 19, 2021
“Admiral Levine’s historic appointment as the first openly transgender four-star officer is a giant step forward towards equality as a nation,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, according to Forbes.
“This is a proud moment for us at HHS,” he claimed. “Admiral Levine—a highly accomplished pediatrician who helps drive our agency’s agenda to boost health access and equity and to strengthen behavioral health—is a cherished and critical partner in our work to build a healthier America.”
Levine will serve as admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, a uniformed—but not armed—service of the U.S. government.
“Officers advance our nation’s public health, serving in agencies across the government, as physicians, nurses, dentists, veterinarians, scientists, engineers and other professionals,” says USPHSCC website.
“This is a momentous occasion and I am honored to take this role for the impact that I can make, and for the historic nature of what it symbolizes,” Levine said about the appointment, according to the Washington Times. “I stand on the shoulder of those LGBTQ-plus individuals who came before me, both those known and unknown.”
Prior to serving in the Biden administration, Levine served as the top health official in Pennsylvania and was embroiled in a number of controversies regarding COVID-19.
During Senate confirmation hearings earlier this year for Levine’s appointment to Health and Human Services, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, grilled the nominee about the charges that Pennsylvania inadequately protected nursing home residents from COVID-19 and then covered it up by failing to disclose the correct numbers.
“You assured me that Pennsylvania did not do what New York did, that it accurately reported” the numbers, Collins said to Levine according to Fox News. “However, I am told that in September of 2020, Spotlight PA reported issues with inadequate disclosure of cases and deaths in nursing homes.”
Levine claimed that the issue was due to the “lag” time between nursing homes and the state on reporting deaths of nursing home residents.