Rachel Levine will become the first trans woman appointed to the US administration. This Harvard graduate will assist Xavier Becerra, the first Hispanic appointed to head the Secretary of State for Health.
United States President-elect Joe Biden announced on January 19 that he was appointing a transgender pediatrician, Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary of State for Health, a “historic” first in contrast to measures deemed discriminatory by his predecessor Donald Trump .
The Democrat was the first US president-elect to include transgender people in his thanks, during his victory speech in November. The future president underlined the “historic choice” of Rachel Levine, currently director of health in the state of Pennsylvania.
She “will provide the strong leadership and the crucial expertise we need to guide people through this pandemic, no matter where they are from, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability,” added Joe Biden, who will become the 46th President of the United States on January 20.
The fight against Covid-19, Biden’s number 1 priority
The Democrat has promised to shift into high gear to fight the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States, the most affected country in the world with 24 million cases and nearly 400,000 deaths. He chose California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as Minister of Health.
Now also a university professor in pediatrics and psychiatry, Rachel Levine “is on the verge of being the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the US Senate,” said Joe Biden’s team. She would then become the top transgender official in the US federal government. Democrats will take control of the upper house this week, which is due to confirm presidential appointments.
The team of the future Democratic president emphasizes that Rachel Levine has already been confirmed “three times” to her functions by the Senate of Pennsylvania, controlled by Republicans. Previously, she co-chaired the pediatrics department at Penn State Hershey Medical Center and was responsible for its division on adolescent medicine.
After the announcement of his presidential victory on November 7, Joe Biden made an unprecedented mention of transgender people. “I am proud of the coalition we have formed together, the largest and most diverse in history. Democrats, Republicans and Independents. Progressive, moderate and conservative. Young and old. Urban, suburban and rural. Gay, straight and transgender. Whites, Latinos, Asians, Native Americans and African Americans, ”he said in his stronghold of Wilmington.
Outgoing President Donald Trump has adopted several controversial measures concerning transgender people. Returning to an emblematic announcement by his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama, he notably announced in 2017 his decision to ban them from serving in the army, highlighting “the burden of enormous medical costs” and “disruptions”.
In early 2018, the Pentagon finally authorized the enlistment of transgender people who had not changed their sex, nor intended to do so, but on condition that they served under their biological sex. Federal courts had suspended this new policy, deeming it “similar” to the previous one.
The Trump administration then appealed and in January 2019, the Supreme Court of the United States had authorized it to block these recruitments, pending a court ruling on this sensitive issue.
It is estimated that 1,320 to 15,000 transgender people serve in the US military out of 1.3 million active duty military personnel. His administration had also tried to exclude transgender people from mechanisms to combat discrimination at work.
The Trump administration had ruled that a 1964 federal law prohibiting discrimination “on the basis of sex” applied only to differences between men and women and not to sexual minorities. In June 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States had this time ruled, ruling that the law also protected them.