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Joe Biden picks trans woman Dr Rachel Levine to be assistant secretary of health

Pennsylvania’s current secretary of health is poised to make history as the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the US Senate.

2021-01-19

Joe Biden has continued to demonstrate a commitment to fostering diversity in the upper echelons of US government after picking transgender woman Dr Rachel Levine to be his assistant secretary of health.

The move leaves Dr Levine - Pennsylvania's current secretary for health - poised to make history as the first out trans federal official to be confirmed by the US Senate.

Dr Levine, who has served as Pennsylvania's secretary for health since 2017, has led the state's response to the Covid-19 pandemic and is already one of just a handful of out trans government officials in the US.

The mother-of-two has also served as a board member for LGBTQ rights organisation Equality Pennsylvania.

Dr Rachel Levine has served as Pennsylvania's secretary of health since 2017

President-elect Biden, who is due to be sworn in as president on Wednesday (20 January), paid tribute to Dr Levine's work in a statement announcing her as his pick to become assistant secretary of health.

"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,” said Biden, 78.

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

Biden's selection of Dr Levine comes after the President-elect picked former Democratic rival (and current Attitude 101 February issue cover star) Pete Buttigieg as his transport secretary last month.

If approved, Mr Buttigieg will become the first out gay cabinet official to be confirmed by the US Senate.