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President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Dr. Rachel Levine as Assistant Secretary for Health at the United States Department of Health and Human Services this Tuesday. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Dr. Levine will make history as the first out transgender person and the highest-ranking one at that, to ever serve in the federal government. 

Dr. Levine—who reportedly completed her training in Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at the Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City—is a Harvard College alumna and is a graduate of the Tulane University School of Medicine. 

Read the announcement of her nomination made by the Harris-Biden transition team in full here.

“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 of Dr. Rachel Levine in a statement. “She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts.” 

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on the other hand, said, “Dr. Rachel Levine is a remarkable public servant with the knowledge and experience to help us contain this pandemic, and protect and improve the health and well-being of the American people. President-elect Biden and I look forward to working with her to meet the unprecedented challenges facing Americans and rebuild our country in a way that lifts everyone up.”

Dr. Levine is currently Pennsylvania’s Department of Health Secretary, a position she has held since being appointed to the post in 2017 by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf. She is also a Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at the Penn State College of Medicine and the President of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO). Dr. Levine is reportedly a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, and the Academy for Eating Disorders as well.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf thanked Dr. Levine for her commitment, her example, and her legacy in a statement, read it here. Gov. Tom Wolf described Dr. Levine as “instrumental in establishing the state’s medical marijuana program, bringing national awareness to opioid use disorder, and highlighting and promoting the need for adequate medical care and access for the LGBTQ community.” He added, “Over the past year, her steady hand and calm approach were critical to managing Pennsylvania’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s inauguration is currently underway in Washington, DC. Apart from Dr. Rachel Levine, the Biden-Harris administration has so far nominated the ‘most diverse’ Cabinet in US history having appointed women, Muslim, Black, Latino, Asian, and LGBTQ people.

Biden chose five Black people as members of his Cabinet namely: 

  • Lloyd Austin who was named Defense Secretary and is said to be the first Black person to lead the Pentagon;
  • Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge, incoming HUD secretary;
  • Michael Regan was named EPA Administrator, he will be the first Black man to head the aforementioned department; 
  • Cecilia Rouse, incoming chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, she is set to be the first Black person to hold the position; 
  • Linda Thomas-Greenfield was named U.N. Ambassador.

In addition, Biden nominated at least 20 Indian-American, 13 of which are reportedly women. Biden also named Arab-American Reema Dodin as Deputy Director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs. She will be the first Palestinian-American Muslim woman to serve as a senior member of the White House staff. Read more about this here.

Further, Biden nominated six Latino people as members of his Cabinet and members of his White House Staff: 

  • Xavier Becerra, for Secretary of Health and Human Services; the first Latino to lead HHS
  • Miguel Cardona for Secretary of Education;
  • Alejandro Mayorkas for Secretary of Homeland Security; the first Latino to lead the department;
  • Isabel Guzman as the Small Business Administrator;
  • Julie Chávez Rodriguez as the director of the Office of Intergovernmental Relations;
  • Adrian Saenz as the deputy director of the Office of Public Engagement.

Moreover, Biden nominated the following LGBTQ people in addition to Dr. Levine:

  • Pete Buttigieg as Transportation Secretary, he could become the first openly gay Cabinet member if confirmed;
  • Karine Jean-Pierre as deputy press secretary;  Jean-Pierre is openly lesbian and chief of staff for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris; 
  • Pili Tobar as deputy White House communications director; she is an out lesbian immigration rights advocate and former aide to Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.;
  • Carlos Elizondo was named White House social secretary; he is openly gay and was Biden’s social secretary during the Obama administration.

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