Mar 24, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Rachel Levine becomes first transgender official confirmed by Senate

Rachel Levine testifies at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee in February 2021.
Rachel Levine testifies at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee in February 2021. Photo: Caroline Brehman-Pool/Getty Images

The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Rachel Levine as assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Why it matters: Levine is the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The vote was 52-48.

Background: Levine, who is a graduate of Harvard and Tulane Medical School, has helped lead Pennsylvania's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She previously served as the state's physician general.

What they're saying: “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 said at the time of her nomination.

  • “She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts,” he added.

Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.

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