Every Thing You Need to Know about Rachel Levine, Biden’s Assistant Health Secretary Selection

Photo of Rachel Levine

Every Thing You Need to Know about Rachel Levine, Biden’s Assistant Health Secretary Selection

By: Caitlyn Garrity / January 20, 2020

According to buildbacktogether.gov, Jan. 2o, President-elect “Joe Biden announced his nomination of Dr. Rachel Levine, 59, to serve as the Assistant Health Secretary for the Health at the United States Department of Health and Human Services.” This selection not only served to further Biden’s plans for taking down the pandemic, but it also made history.

Harvard alumna Dr. Levine serves as the Secretary of Health for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and a professor at Penn State College of Medicine. Dr. Levine is also transgender and will become the first openly transgender Senate-confirmed elected official.

What is Dr. Levine’s Background?

Along with her degree from Harvard, Dr. Levine graduated from the Tulane School of Medicine. After medical school, Dr. Levine finished her training at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York where she specialized in Pediatrics. She joined the Wolf administration of Pennsylvania in 2015 as the Physician General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. There she served two years and eventually became the Secretary of Health in 2018.

Photo of Dr. Rachel Levine with a purple top on

Photo via buildbackbetter.gov

What are Dr. Levine’s Passions and Motives in her Field?

In the past, Dr. Levine has written literature about “the opioid crisis, medical marijuana, adolescent medicine, eating disorders and LGBTQ medicine,” according to a TIME article. With her work under Gov. Wolf’s administration, she signed a prescription for all of Pennsylvania to distribute naloxone, a life-saving drug, to those who need it.

She is involved with the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, and the Academy for Eating Disorders. According to the Department of Health in Pennsylvania, Dr. Levine served as “Vice-Chair for Clinical Affairs for the Department of Pediatrics and Chief of the Division of Adolescent Medicine and Eating Disorders at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center.”

What Makes Dr. Levine’s Nomination Important?

Along with her being the first openly transgender Senate-confirmation, she is also a part of a glass-breaking administration. Pete Buttigieg, the openly gay mayor from South Bend, IN, will serve as Biden’s transportation secretary. Buttigieg will be the first Senate-confirmed LGBTQ Cabinet secretary. More obvious, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will serve as the first woman vice president in United States History. The Biden administration was inaugurated today and so far, it is looking to be a progressive group.

Aside from Dr. Levine serving as another first for the United States, she will also be helping the Biden administration fight the current COVID-19 pandemic. In the same TIME article, Harris called Levine, “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.”

Photo of Rachel Levine wearing a mask speaking on a podium

Photo via mynbc15.com

Biden has already come out with his plan for the first 100 days of his presidency. This plan includes a mandatory mask mandate, administrating 100 million vaccine shots, assigning federal emergency personnel to operate mass vaccine centers and doing it all quickly.

Looking Toward the Future: Dr. Levine and the “First Cabinet Ever”

The LGBTQ community continuously fights against the history of discrimination against its members and as administrations switch, it is important to recognize the growth and appointments of LGBTQ members into the United States government. The selection of Dr. Levine shows the shift of selecting individuals based on their qualifications rather than their identity or background. According to the Associated Press, Biden’s Cabinet is referred to as “‘the first Cabinet ever’ to reach gender parity and include a majority of people of color, notable given earlier concerns that he was leaning largely on white men.”

With his inauguration today, his efforts will kick into effect and the United States will get to see his nominations like Dr. Levine, look to get confirmed to start their hard and meaningful work.

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