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By Martin Campos (they/them)

President Joe Biden recently made history with his nomination of Dr. Rachel Levine to serve as Assistant Secretary of Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). If confirmed by the Senate, Dr. Levine would become the first openly transgender federal official to be senate confirmed.

So what exactly does the Assistant Secretary of Health do?

In their role, the Assistant Secretary of Health:

  • Leads the HHS-wide public health recommendations. 
  • Oversees several core public health offices, including the Office of the Surgeon General, the Office of Infectious Diseases and HIV/AIDs Policy, the Office of Minority Health, the Office of Women’s Health, and the Office of Population Affairs. 
  • Leads 10 Regional Health Offices across the nation as well as the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.

Once confirmed, Dr. Levine will be empowered to help shape the way treatment, care, and policy surrounding transgender and gender non-conforming individuals are approached in the United States. Dr. Levine currently serves the people of Pennsylvania in the role of Secretary of Health since 2017 and has been tasked with handling the state’s response to COVID-19. And prior to serving the people of Pennsylvania as Secretary of Health, Dr. Levine served as the Physician General of Pennsylvania.

The announcement of Dr. Levine’s nomination in itself created waves of reflection amongst the American people. Hordes of conflicted and angered Americans flooded social media posts, commenting hateful and transphobic statements in an effort to express their outrage and dismay with the nominee. Others came forth to defend, encourage, and applaud the administration in their commitment to diversity. Amongst the vast range of opinions permeates a common underlying understanding, not directly stated, that this appointment signifies an end to bigotry in policy, which in turn becomes principal rather than an option to consider. The nomination and subsequent appointment of Dr. Levine as Assistant Secretary of Health, much like the swearing-in of our first female Vice President, Kamala Harris, has shown that inclusion can lead to the amplification of empowerment for those who have been marginalized. Her lived experience combined with her education and professionalism will lead Dr. Levine to assist in the saving of thousands of transgender and gender non-conforming lives. 

We at TransFamily Support Services look forward to observing the work Dr. Levine does while helping to develop and build upon it as we are able. 

You can take action to encourage your Senators to confirm Dr. Levine. Use this link to find your Senator and contact them today: Find My Senator