The Senate voted 52-48 to confirm Dr. Rachel Levine as assistant health secretary on Wednesday.
Senators Susan Collins (R., Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska) were the only two Republicans to vote with Democrats in favor of Levine’s confirmation. Levine is the first transgender person ever confirmed to a government position by the Senate.
“I firmly believe that turning points, such as today’s Senate confirmation vote for Dr. Levine’s appointment, are powerful indications that this nation is truly heading down the pathway to lasting transgender equality,” Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, an Obama administration official who was the first transgender person to work at the White House, told the Washington Post.
Levine, a pediatrician by training, was appointed Pennsylvania health secretary by Governor Tom Wolfe in 2017. Levine faced calls to resign in Spring 2020 following reports that she removed her mother from a personal care home, after ordering state nursing homes to accept coronavirus patients who were discharged from hospitals.
“My mother requested, and my sister and I as her children complied to move her to another location during the Covid-19 outbreak,” Levine said at the time, adding that her mother is “more than competent to make her own decisions.”
During her confirmation hearings, Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) questioned Levine on whether she supported allowing minors to decide to transition to another sex.
“Dr. Levine, do you believe that minors are capable of making such a life-changing decision as changing one’s sex?” Paul asked.
Levine replied that “transgender medicine is a very complex and nuanced field with robust research and standards of care that have been developed.”
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