Transgender HHS Official Rachel Levine Named ‘First-Ever Female Four-Star Admiral’ in Public Health Corps

Dr. Rachel Levine (Tom Brenner - Pool / Getty)
Tom Brenner - Pool / Getty

The Biden administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Tuesday publicly announced that Rachel Levine, the transgender assistant secretary of health for HHS, had been named the nation’s first openly transgender four-star officer across any of the eight uniformed services of the United States. According to the press release, this makes Levine, a biological male, the “highest ranking official in the USPHS Commissioned Corps and its first-ever female four-star admiral.”

“Admiral Rachel Levine, who serves as the HHS Assistant Secretary for Health and head of the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps, was ceremonially sworn in as a four-star admiral,” HHS said in a Tuesday statement, identifying the official as its “first-ever female four-star admiral.”

Rachel Levine, nominated to be an assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (Caroline Brehman/Pool via AP)

Rachel Levine testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (Caroline Brehman/Pool via AP)

“Admiral Levine will lead 6,000 Public Health Service officers who are dedicated to serving our nation’s most underserved and vulnerable populations,” the announcement continued, deeming it “historic.”

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, who recently came under fire for calling coronavirus survivors who are refusing the vaccine as “flat-earthers,” described the announcement as a “giant step forward towards equality as a nation.”

“This is a proud moment for us at HHS. Admiral Levine — a highly accomplished pediatrician who helps drive our agency’s agenda to boost health access and equity and to strengthen behavioral health — is a cherished and critical partner in our work to build a healthier America,” Becerra said. 

US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Xavier Becerra testifies before a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing titled "The President's Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Request for the US Department of HHS," in Washington, DC, on June 9, 2021. (Photo by Al Drago / POOL / AFP) (Photo by AL DRAGO/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Xavier Becerra testifies before a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing in Washington, DC, on June 9, 2021. (Photo by AL DRAGO/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

In his acceptance, Levine, who was born as Richard, gleefully accepted the identity as the “first female four-star officer of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and first openly transgender four-star officer across any of the 8 uniformed services.”

“This is a momentous occasion and I am pleased to take this role for the impact I can make, and for the historic nature of what it symbolizes,” Levine said. “May this appointment be the first of many like it as we create a more inclusive future.”

Prior to taking a role with the Biden administration’s HHS, Levine rose to the spotlight serving as Pennsylvania’s health secretary, defending Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D) overreaching edicts throughout the pandemic.

Governor Tom Wolf listening aa Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine speaks to reporters. Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine provided an update on the coronavirus known as COVID-19 and outline ongoing efforts to mitigate the virus in Pennsylvania. The Department of Health anticipates that there will be more Pennsylvanians who test positive for COVID-19 in the coming days and weeks and it is important for residents to know the commonwealth is prepared and to be prepared themselves. People have a higher chance of testing positive for COVID-19 if they have traveled to a country or state with known community outbreaks or have come in contact with someone who has the virus. The Wolf Administration is working with the health care community across Pennsylvania to keep them informed, consult on patient testing, and ensure they have the resources they need to care for patients. March 16, 2020 – Harrisburg Pa

Governor Tom Wolf listening as Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine speaks to reporters.

Levine came under heavy scrutiny last year after it was revealed he moved his 95-year-old mother from a nursing home despite guidance from his own department, which initially urged nursing homes to admit “stable” coronavirus patients into the facilities.

“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, describing his mother as “very intelligent and more than competent to make her own decisions.”

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