Conservative groups have denounced the Senate’s confirmation of Dr. Rachel Levine to be assistant secretary of health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. President Joe Biden nominated Levine for the position, in part, because he would be the first openly trans-identifying individual to serve as a federal official.
Levine, who was born Richard Levine and formerly served as Pennsylvania Health Secretary, was confirmed by the Senate on Wednesday in a vote of 52-48.
In remarks delivered before the vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called the Levine confirmation an important milestone on behalf of the transgender community.
“As transgender Americans suffer higher rates of abuse, homelessness, and depression than almost every other group, it’s important to have national figures like Dr. Levine who, by virtue of being in the public spotlight, will help break down barriers of ignorance and fear,” Schumer said.
“The historic nature of her nomination should not be lost on anyone, but Dr. Levine thoroughly deserves to be confirmed on the strength of her qualifications. Despite several attacks on her gender identity over the past year, Dr. Levine has stayed laser-focused on helping the state of Pennsylvania manage and respond to COVID.”
However, many socially conservative groups like the American Principles Project have denounced Levine’s confirmation, saying in part that the appointment will lead to a backlash against Democrats.
APP President Terry Schilling explained that he believed the Levine confirmation was “historic” in that “the position of assistant secretary for health will be filled by someone who has openly and vocally advocated for allowing children to undergo sex-change procedures.”
“But while President Biden and Democrats may have fooled voters last fall into believing such an extreme position wasn’t a part of their agenda, they will not be able to do so next time around,” Schilling said.
“Every Democrat in the Senate is now on record as supporting childhood sex changes, and they will have to answer for it to their voters.”