WASHINGTON | The US Senate confirmed Wednesday by a narrow majority Rachel Levine, a transgender pediatrician, as Deputy Minister of Health, a first “historic” hailed by the White House.
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University professor in pediatrics and psychiatry, Rachel Levine, 63, was until January director of health in the state of Pennsylvania, responsible in particular for the fight against COVID-19.
A position that gives him “the crucial expertise we need to guide people through this pandemic,” Joe Biden said when announcing his appointment in January.
But Republicans have criticized his handling of the health crisis in Pennsylvania.
Rachel Levine was finally confirmed by 52 votes to 48 in the Senate, only two Republican senators having joined the 50 elected members of the Democratic camp to approve her nomination.
“Dr. Levine becomes the first openly transgender American to be confirmed by the Senate, a turning point in US history,” tweeted White House communications official Matt Hill.
Associations for the defense of LGBT people (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender) applauded this confirmation.
“This is a historic moment”, which marks a turning point “important for the visibility and integration of transgender people”, reacted Kevin Jennings, the legal director of the organization Lambda.
Rachel Levine is also “the highest official in our government to be openly transgender,” he said.
His arrival in the Biden administration marks a stark contrast to the measures deemed discriminatory against transgender people by former President Donald Trump.
In his presidential victory speech in November, Joe Biden was the first US president-elect to include transgender people in his thanks.