Dr Rachel Levine has been confirmed by the US Senate as Joe Biden’s assistant health secretary, making her the highest ranking out trans official in the country’s history, according to ABC News. The Senate confirmed her position in a 52-48 vote, and she will now join the US health department to help tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.
Levine was previously serving as a top health official in Pennsylvania and led the state’s response to the pandemic. The Senate’s health committee chair, Patty Murray, praised Levine’s abilities, and congratulated the government for ‘reflecting the people it serves’, calling her appointment as health secretary a “historic” step forward.
Biden previously endorsed Levine, saying: “Dr. Rachel Levine will bring the steady leadership and essential expertise we need to get people through this pandemic…She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts.” LGBTQ+ activists and advocacy groups are celebrating the her confirmation, with the Human Rights Campaign tweeting: “Trans people are leaders, innovators and change-makers – and we deserve a seat at every table.”