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Biden taps Rachel Levine to become 1st openly transgender federal official confirmed by the Senate

President-elect Joe Biden has announced a historic pick for assistant health secretary.

Biden said Tuesday he’ll nominate Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s secretary of health, to serve as assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services. This makes her “poised to become the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate,” Biden’s transition noted in a statement.

Levine is leading Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 response, and “as she sought to contain the pandemic with aggressive social distancing rules, it also made her the target of more frequent abuse,” The Washington Post wrote.

“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 in a statement. “She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts.”

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Vice President-elect Kamala Harris also praised Levine as “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.”