Biden’s LGBTQ Pick For Assistant Health Secretary

PLUS: County fair had to apologize after Levine look-alike was used in dunk tank fundraiser 

WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden has tapped Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine to be his assistant secretary of health, leaving her poised to become the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

A pediatrician and former Pennsylvania physician general, Levine was appointed to her current post by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf in 2017, making her one of the few transgender people serving in elected or appointed positions nationwide.

She won past confirmation by the Republican-majority Pennsylvania Senate and has emerged as the public face of the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden said in a statement:

“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.”

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

A graduate of Harvard and of Tulane Medical School, Levine is president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. She’s written in the past on the opioid crisis, medical marijuana, adolescent medicine, eating disorders and LGBTQ medicine.

Biden and his transition team have already begun negotiating with members of Congress, promoting speedy passage of the president-elect’s $1.9 trillion plan to bring the coronavirus, which has killed nearly 400,000 people in the United States, under control.

It seeks to enlist federal emergency personnel to run mass vaccination centers and provide 100 immunization shots in his administration’s first 100 days while using government spending to stimulate the pandemic-hammered economy, Biden also says that, in one of his first acts as president, he’ll ask Americans to wear masks for 100 days to slow the virus’ spread.

Levine joins Biden’s Health and Human Services secretary nominee Xavier Becerra, a Latino politician who rose from humble beginnings to serve in Congress and as California’s attorney general.

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Businessman Jeff Zients is Biden’s coronavirus response coordinator, while Biden picked infectious-disease specialist Rochelle Walensky to run the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Vivek Murthy as surgeon general and Yale epidemiologist Marcella Nunez-Smith to head a working group to ensure fair and equitable distribution of vaccines and treatments.

The government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, will also work closely with the Biden administration.

County Fair Apologizes After Levine Look-Alike Used In Dunk Tank Fundraiser 

MICHAEL RUBINKAM, 21 July 2020

Yahoo! Finance – Many of the attacks against Pennsylvania’s health secretary have little to do with the way she has handled the statewide response to the coronavirus pandemic.

As a transgender woman, Dr. Rachel Levine has been subjected to a stream of mockery and abuse on social media and elsewhere. Every time she goes on camera to update the public and implore Pennsylvanians to wear masks, wash their hands and “stay calm, stay alert and stay safe,” ugly comments and memes follow.

Over the weekend, one of the state’s most popular fairs — the 165-year-old Bloomsburg Fair — found itself in hot water after posting a photo of a man in a dunk tank who had donned a blond wig, floral-print dress and glasses. The dunk tank was part of a weekend carnival held on the fairgrounds to benefit the region’s volunteer fire departments.

“Dr. Levine? Thank you you were a hit and raised a lot of money for the local fire companies. Wonder why so many were trying to dunk you,” said the Bloomsburg Fair Association’s post, which included a smiley-face emoji.

The fair deleted the post from its Facebook page, but critics slammed the dunk tank impersonation and the fair association’s comment as transphobic. U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat, and other politicians issued statements of condemnation. Some people said they planned to skip this year’s fair, scheduled for late September.

In a written statement, the fair said that Levine’s likeness was used to raise money for fire departments whose fundraising has been hampered by COVID-19, and had nothing to do with her gender identity. The statement pointed out she’s a public figure.

Fair officials subsequently held a news conference Tuesday and apologized, saying they meant no harm … Read more. 

Bloomsburg Fair
Images: Bloomsburg Fair

 

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