Dr. Rachel Levine made historical past on Wednesday, changing into the primary brazenly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the Senate.
In a 52-48 vote, the chamber authorised Levine’s nomination to the function of assistant secretary for well being within the Department of Health and Human Services. All Democrats and two Republican senators — Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — voted to verify her.
In an earlier assertion about Levine’s nomination, President Joe Biden said the pediatrician and former Pennsylvania secretary of well being could be a boon to the administration’s battle towards the coronavirus.
“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 stated in January.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) echoed this sentiment on the Senate flooring Wednesday, telling her colleagues earlier than the vote that Levine could be a very good match for the function and acknowledged the “historic” nature of her appointment.
“I’ve always said the people in our government should reflect the people it serves, and today we will take a new historic step towards making that a reality,” Murray stated, according to NPR. “I’m proud to vote for Dr. Levine and incredibly proud of the progress this confirmation will represent, for our country and for transgender people all across it who are watching today.”
Murray noted that Levine could be the “highest ranking openly transgender official in our government.”
Levine’s gender id was raised throughout her affirmation listening to when Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) erroneously in contrast gender-affirming surgical procedure to “genital mutilation” and questioned Levine as as to if kids are able to making “such a life-changing decision as changing one’s sex.”
In response, Levine advised the senator that “transgender medicine is a very complex and nuanced field with robust research and standards of care that have been developed.”
“If I am fortunate enough to be confirmed as the assistant secretary of health, I will look forward to working with you and your office and coming to your office and discussing the particulars of the standards of care for transgender medicine,” she stated.
Transgender activists and allies later called Paul’s remarks “harmful” and “deadly.”
Levine stated in a press release to The New York Times that she was “humbled” by her affirmation and expressed gratitude to the LGBT+ neighborhood for its help.
“Only through your work and advocacy over many decades is my story possible,” she stated.
Levine concluded her assertion with a message of encouragement for transgender youth.
“I know that each and every day you confront many difficult challenges,” she stated. “Sadly, some of the challenges you face are from people who would seek to use your identity and circumstance as a weapon. It hurts. I know. I cannot promise you that these attacks will immediately cease, but I will do everything I can to support you and advocate for you.”
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