On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Dr. Rachel Levine as the assistant secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, making Levine the first openly transgender federal official to be appointed by the Senate.
Levine, who had served as Pennsylvania's top official since 2017, was first nominated by President Joe Biden in January. At the time, Biden cited Levine’s experience as the reason for the nomination.
Levine “will bring the steady leadership and essential expertise we need to get people through this pandemic — no matter their zip code, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability,” Biden said.
The final vote during Wednesday’s Senate confirmation was 52-48, with Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine voting for Levine alongside all Democratic Senators.
Levine’s appointment was praised by transgender activists as a historic breakthrough, the Associated Press reports.
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization also celebrated the move writing, “Trans people are leaders, innovators and change-makers — and we deserve a seat at every table.”
Conservatives, however, voiced concerns over Levine’s past support for gender transitions for young people without parental consent.
During a confirmation hearing last month, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky), also a medical doctor, pressed Levine to offer an opinion on the use of puberty blockers and transgender surgeries for minors.
“Do you support the government intervening to override the parents' consent to give a child puberty blocker, cross-sex hormones, and/or amputation surgery of breasts and genitalia...?” Paul asked.
Levine, who dodged the question, said transgender medicine “is a very complex and nuanced field, with robust research and standards of care that have been developed”.
“And if I am fortunate enough to be confirmed as the assistant secretary of health, I look forward to working with you and your office and coming to your office and discussing the particulars of the standards of care for transgender medicine,” Levine continued.
Following Wednesday’s confirmation, the Family Research Council, a Protestant activist group, warned that Levine will target people of faith for their beliefs on gender as well as abortion.
Travis Weber, FRC's Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs, asserted that in Levine's previous secretary role in Pennsylvania, Levine had endorsed “a variety of pro-abortion and anti-religious freedom proposals”.
Weber added that he believes “Levine will exercise his authority to punish parents and people of faith who object to his anti-life, anti-family agenda.”
“Levine's crusade against religious liberty would only be made worse by bills like the Equality Act or Fairness for All, both of which HHS would have a hand in implementing. Yet under the Biden administration, HHS is being led by radical political appointees like Levine and Xavier Becerra," Weber concluded.
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Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.