Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the upcoming confirmation vote of Dr. Rachel Levine for Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services. She will be the first openly transgender official ever confirmed by the United States Senate. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
Today, the Senate will confirm the nomination of Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s top health official, to be the next Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services.
The Biden Administration has brought many historic “firsts” into its ranks, including the first openly gay Cabinet Secretary at any agency. The confirmation of Rachel Levine represents another important milestone for the American LGBTQ community. She will be the first openly transgender official ever confirmed by the United States Senate.
The arc of history is long but it keeps bending in the direction of justice.
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.
Pennsylvania’s political leaders say Dr. Levine has forced people in their state to better understand the transgender community. One state legislator said: “She has robbed people of the false premise that they don’t know any trans people and therefore don’t need to be respectful of trans people.”
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. The quality of her public service is reflected by the fact that she was confirmed not once, not twice, but three times by the Republican-led State Senate to serve first as physician general and then as Health Secretary.
The U.S. Senate should follow suit today and make Dr. Levine the Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services.