Rachel Levine makes history as first openly trans person confirmed by US Senate

Levine will now be Assistant Secretary for Health for the Biden administration.

An older woman with long hair and glasses looks into the distance

In a vote of 52-48 in her favour, Rachel Levine has made history by becoming the first openly trans person to be confirmed by the US Senate.

Levine has now been approved as the Assistant Secretary for Health for the Biden administration. The former Pennsylvania Health Secretary, Levine led her state’s response to COVID-19, winning many admirers in the process. At the time of her nomination in January, President Biden stated, “(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.”

While the votes for Rachel Levine fell mainly along party lines, two Republican Senators – Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine – joined the Democratic members of the Senate to push through the appointment.

Speaking of her appointment, Levine shared, “As I prepare to take my oath of office and begin serving as Assistant Secretary for Health, I would like to take this opportunity to address members of the LGBTQ community. First, thank you. Only through your work and advocacy over many decades is my story possible. I am humbled to be the first transgender individual to serve in a Senate-confirmed position.

“As Vice President Harris has said, I recognise that I may be the first, but I am heartened by the knowledge that I will not be the last. When I assume this position, I will stand on the shoulders of those who came before – people we know throughout history and those whose names we will never know because they were forced to live and work in the shadows.

“In particular, I want to address transgender youth. I know that each and every day you confront many difficult challenges. Sadly, some of the challenges you face are from people who would seek to use your identity and circumstances 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.

“President Obama often reminded us that not all progress goes in a straight line. What I can tell you is that there is a place for you in America and in our government. Our ‘more perfect union’ includes you too.”

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