Biden picks transgender doctor as assistant health secretaryJanuary 19, 2021
President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday nominated Pennsylvania health secretary Rachel Levine for assistant secretary of health at HHS, making her the first openly transgender federal official to be up for Senate confirmation.
A Harvard and Tulane-educated pediatrician, Levine emerged as the public face of her state's pandemic response while also serving as president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. She was appointed to her current post by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf in 2017 and has written on the opioid crisis, medical marijuana, adolescent medicine, eating disorders and LGBTQ medicine.
"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 in a statement.
Biden is rounding out his health team, with nominations yet to come to head the FDA and CMS.
Levine would serve under HHS Secretary-designate Xavier Becerra, a former Los Angeles-area congressman now serving as California attorney general. The assistant health secretary post is now held by Adm. Brett Giroir, the Trump administration's coronavirus testing czar, who also is responsible for developing public health policy recommendations and overseeing some HHS core public health offices.