President-elect Joe Biden recently announced that he will appoint Dr. Rachel Levine as Assistant Secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services.
Calling Levine a “deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts,” the former Vice President said that Levine would help Americans — “no matter their zip code, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability” — navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rising to prominence since the advent of COVID-19 in the United States, Levine is the face of Pennsylvania’s response to the virus. His tenure as Pennsylvania Secretary of Health under Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has been rife with controversy.
Here are five things you should know about Levine as he makes his debut in national politics.
Formerly known as Richard, Levine underwent several years of therapy before informing friends and family in 2011 that he would transition to female. Levine and his wife, who have two children, divorced two years later.
When Gov. Wolf asked Levine to join his administration as Physician General in 2015, Levine was one of the few transgender government officials in the entire United States.
The Biden-Harris transition team’s press release boasted that Levine would be “the first openly transgender Senate-confirmed federal official” if his nomination is successful.
Led Pennsylvania COVID Response
Levine is currently leading Pennsylvania’s response to COVID-19 as the state government’s top health official.
Levine’s primary medical experience is in pediatrics and psychiatry. After graduating from Harvard College and the Tulane University School of Medicine, Levine worked as Chief of the Division of Adolescent Medicine and Eating Disorders at Penn State’s Hershey Medical Center until his entrance into the state government.
As Secretary of Health, Levine has favored a heavy-handed approach to slowing the spread of COVID-19. In addition to a statewide lockdown in the spring of 2020, Levine led the Wolf administration in launching a second round of harsh restrictions before the holiday season. From December 12 to January 4, indoor dining was prohibited across the entire state.
Levine has little to show for his draconian approach to the pandemic. As of January 18, Pennsylvania boasted the twelfth-highest COVID-19 death rate in the United States.
Pulled Mom Out Of Nursing Home Despite State Orders
Joining other politicians across the United States in neglecting their own COVID-19 orders, Levine pulled his mother out of her nursing home as the virus ravaged Pennsylvania’s elderly population.
In a move authorized by Levine, Pennsylvania was one of the few states that forced nursing homes to accept COVID-19 positive residents or face disciplinary action. As a result, over 70% of Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 deaths occurred in long-term care facilities during the first months of the pandemic.
In the midst of this crisis, Levine removed his 95-year-old mother from her personal care home.
“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 in May, according to ABC27.
Served In LGBTQ Group ‘Equality Pennsylvania’
Levine served as a board member for Equality Pennsylvania, an advocacy group that advocated for LGBTQ+ policies in the years before same-sex marriage was legalized.
The organization was part of the Equality Federation, which pushes for transgender bathroom laws, workplace equality, and “reproductive justice.”
Equality Pennsylvania endorsed several pro-LGBTQ+ politicians in Pennsylvania, one of which was Brian Sims — a state representative who gained notoriety after he harassed three teenage girls who were quietly praying in front of a Planned Parenthood abortion facility in Philadelphia.
Asked Radio Host To Stop ‘Misgendering’
As thousands of Pennsylvanians were dying of COVID-19 in May 2020, Levine gained more national attention after lambasting a local radio host for “misgendering.”
KDKA-AM host Marty Griffith accidentally called Levine “sir” several times during a press call. Levine demanded that Griffith apologize, insisting that the slip-up was “really insulting.”
“I apologize. I apologized twice. I truly did. It was not intentional. It was not. I was not focused. I was doing six things at once,” pleaded Griffith on Twitter.
#RespectforRachel soon began trending on social media. In the aftermath of the incident Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto (D-PA) canceled an interview with KDKA-AM, explaining that he would “not support [their] behavior.”
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.