by A.V. Eichenbaum -
SGN Associate Editor
In a historic vote Wednesday, March 25th, the US Senate confirmed Dr. Rachel Levine to be the Assistant Health Secretary of the US Dept of Health and Human Services. Levine is the first openly Transgender federal official in the history of the United States, and many see her confirmation as a glimpse at brighter days ahead.
"It is a historic, inspiring day for the LGBTQ community, particularly transgender people, who are finally able to see themselves reflected at the highest levels of our government," said Human Rights Campaign President Alphnso David. "With the confirmation of Dr. Rachel Levine, we are one step closer to a government that mirrors the beautiful diversity of its people. It is absolutely critical that everybody has a seat at the table and the Biden-Harris administration has made a dedicated, applaudable effort to ensure that outcome."
Levine joins a diverse cabinet including many other "firsts," but the importance of a Transgender healthcare official isn't being overlooked.
"Dr. Levine's confirmation is significant on many levels," said Erin Uritus, CEO of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, in a statement sent to the Seattle Gay News Wednesday afternoon. "The HHS has served as a tool to target LGBTQ - especially transgender - healthcare rights. Most notably, the HHS unraveled trans health protections implemented under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. Dr. Levine will be able to bring her new skill sets and empathy into this position to help protect LGBTQ healthcare rights."
In her own statement after the nomination, Levine said, "I look forward to the opportunity to continue to serve Pennsylvanians, and all Americans."
The vote was close: 52-48. Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) were the only two Republicans to vote across party lines in favor of Dr. Levine's confirmation.