Oct 19, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Rachel Levine sworn in as first openly transgender 4-star officer

Rachel Levine testifies at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Feb. 25. Photo: Caroline Brehman-Pool/Getty Images

Rachel Levine was sworn in on Tuesday as the admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, making her the nation's first openly transgender four-star officer, the Department of Health and Human Services said.

The big picture: Levine, the assistant secretary for health, made history in March when she became the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

  • The U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps responds to health emergencies on behalf of the federal government, including administering COVID-19 vaccines and responding to natural disasters, such as hurricanes.
  • Levine is also the organization's first female four-star admiral and the sixth four-star admiral in the history of the service, per the Washington Post.

What they're saying: In an interview, Levine said that her new position as an admiral was "not just symbolic," per the Post.

  • "I’m doing this because of my dedication to service … [and] with the utmost respect and honor for the uniform that I will be wearing," Levine said.
  • "Admiral Levine’s historic appointment as the first openly transgender four-star officer is a giant step forward toward equality as a nation," HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

Go deeper: Rachel Levine becomes first transgender official confirmed by Senate

Go deeper