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NCLR Joins Hundreds to Support Dr. Rachel Levine as Assistant Secretary for Health; More than 350 groups have signed a letter in support of President Biden’s nominee

WASHINGTON—In lieu of transphobic attacks by Pennsylvania Republican lawmaker, Rep. Jeff Pyle mocked Dr. Levine, a well-respected pediatrician in the state and the Pennsylvania Health Secretary, organizations have come together to support her nomination.

On January 19, Biden picked the pediatrician as assistant health secretary of the U.S. Levine could become the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

rachel levine

The transphobic and insensitive post that Rep. Levine wrote after Pres. Biden nominated Dr. Levine for the post.

But, Rep. Pyle’s Facebook post mocking Dr. Levine backfired. According to NBC online, “the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus called on the House Republican Caucus and the speaker of the Pennsylvania House to reprimand Pyle for his post, which the Equality Caucus called ‘discriminatory and dangerous.’”

“In a recent post to social media, Rep. Pyle made overt, hurtful, and dangerous attacks on Sec. Levine’s gender identity as a Transgender person,” read the PA Caucus’ statement online. “The kind of discrimination and hatred displayed by Rep. Pyle aren’t just antithetical to the values and morals established in our Constitution, they are a direct violation of the public trust afforded to him as a member of the General Assembly. Moreover, by attacking Sec. Levine in this way, Rep. Pyle has perpetuated both transphobia and discrimination against the LGBTQ+ communities which have among the highest rates of civil rights violations and discrimination in the nation, often with deadly consequences.

“By attacking Sec. Levine, Rep. Pyle has brought the House of Representatives into dishonor and disrepute and until his actions are addressed, he continues to place her, and hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ+ people in the Commonwealth act risk for further discrimination to attack.”

Following the historic nomination of Levine, hundreds of organizations across the United States united to urge the U.S. Senate to swiftly confirm her to this position.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights joins more than 350 organizations from 42 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, led by the National LGBT Cancer Network, Fenway Health, and Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania, who have signed a letter detailing Dr. Levine’s impeccable credentials and preparedness to serve as Assistant Secretary for Health.

Additionally, Dr. Levine would make history as the first transgender person ever confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The letter touts her as “the best possible candidate.” [To view the full letter, visit bit.ly/LevineSupportLetter.]

“President Biden promised us that his administration would look like America, and with his nomination of Dr. Levine, he has shown us that he means all of America,” said Julianna S. Gonen, Esq., NCLR Policy Director. “From nominating Dr. Levine to issuing an executive order on LGBTQ nondiscrimination and ending the unlawful ban on transgender military service, in the space of just one week in office the President has shown that he sees the LGBTQ community and values our contributions, leadership, and humanity. Dr. Levine is the kind of experienced and proven public health leader that the nation urgently needs at this moment and we look forward to her speedy confirmation by the full U.S. Senate.

Dr. Levine is the current Secretary of Health for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, as well as the president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO). She previously served as Physician General for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. She has been confirmed, with overwhelming bipartisan support, three times by the Pennsylvania State Senate, and she has managed Pennsylvania’s response to the opioid crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Biden-Harris Administration has appointed the most diverse group of experts to lead government agencies in history,” said Sean Cahill, Ph.D., Director of Health Policy Research at The Fenway Institute. “As Secretary of Health for the sixth most populous state in the country, Dr. Levine routinely works with the U.S. Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary of Health’s office building bridges between state public health policies and federal actions. This experience will be invaluable in the coming months when there will be an urgent need for coordinating federal COVID-19 vaccination and prevention efforts with state-level responses.”

Support

“As another trans leader in public health, I am thrilled to see such a revered member of my own community be this successful, yet it is my greatest wish that the U.S. Senate bases its approval on her qualifications,” said Scout, executive director of the National LGBT Cancer Network. “The fact that she is trans is an inspiration for the many of us who have never had a role model this senior before. The fact that she is supremely qualified means her trans status, while historic and inspirational, should not be a factor in her confirmation.”

“We strongly encourage Dr. Levine’s swift confirmation by the U.S. Senate,” said Adrian Shanker, executive director of Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center. “Her leadership in Harrisburg has saved countless lives from both the opioid epidemic and the COVID-19 pandemic. She is a dedicated public servant, a public health expert, and a compassionate leader who is well-prepared to go to Washington to improve public health for the American people.”

A coalition of LGBTQ+ organizations initially sent an earlier version of this letter by operating as the Federal LGBTQI Policy Roundtable to the Biden transition team. The new letter will remain open to organizational sign-ons through the confirmation process and can be accessed at bit.ly/levine4ash.

The Biden Administration has already signed an executive order to ban the trans military ban and has included other members of the LGBTQ community in his cabinet.

 

The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) is a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. Since its founding, NCLR has maintained a longstanding commitment to racial and economic justice and the LGBTQ community’s most vulnerable.

[From a News Release]