Schumer Lauds Biden for Nominating ‘the First Openly Transgender Official Ever Confirmed by the U.S. Senate’

By CNSNews.com Staff | April 8, 2021 | 3:32pm EDT
(Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
(Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D.-N.Y.) gave a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate on March 24 in which he applauded President Joe Biden for nominating the “first openly transgender official ever confirmed by the U.S. Senate.”

The official in question was Dr. Rachel Levine, who formerly was the Pennsylvania secretary of health, and whom Biden had nominated to be assistant secretary of Health and Human Services.

Levine grew up in Massachusetts as Richard Levine. He married a woman and had two children. According to a 2016 report in the Washington Post, Levine “publicly announced herself as a transgender woman” in about 2011.

“Now on the Levine nomination, today, the Senate will confirm the nomination of Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s top health official, to be the next Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services,” Schumer said in his March 24 speech.

“The Biden administration has brought many historic firsts into its ranks, including the first openly gay Cabinet Secretary at any Agency,” said Schumer. “The confirmation of Rachel Levine represents another important milestone for the American LGBTQ community. She will be the first openly transgender official ever confirmed by the U.S. Senate.”

“The arc of history is long, but it keeps bending in the direction of justice,” said Schumer. “As transgender Americans suffer higher rates of abuse, homelessness and depression than almost every other group, it is important to have national figures like Dr. Levine, who, by virtue of being in the public spotlight, will help break down barriers of ignorance and fear.”

“The historic nature of her nomination should not be lost on anyone,” said Schumer.

The Senate voted that day 52 to 48 to confirm Levine. No Democrats voted against her. Two Republicans—Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska—voted for her.

Here is a transcript of Schumer's speech on the Senate floor about the confirmation of Dr. Rachel Levine:

Sen. Chuck Schumer: “Now on the Levine nomination, today, the Senate will confirm the nomination of Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s top health official, to be the next Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services. The Biden administration has brought many historic firsts into its ranks, including the first openly gay Cabinet Secretary at any Agency. The confirmation of Rachel Levine represents another important milestone for the American LGBTQ community. She will be the first openly transgender official ever confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

“The arc of history is long, but it keeps bending in the direction of justice. As transgender Americans suffer higher rates of abuse, homelessness and depression than almost every other group, it is important to have national figures like Dr. Levine, who, by virtue of being in the public spotlight, will help break down barriers of ignorance and fear.

“Pennsylvania’s political leaders say Dr. Levine has forced people in their State to better understand the transgender community. One State legislator said: She has robbed people of the false premise that they don’t know any trans people and therefore don’t need to be respectful of trans people.

“The historic nature of her nomination should not be lost on anyone. But Dr. Levine thoroughly deserves to be confirmed on the strength of her qualifications. Despite several attacks on her gender identity over the past year, Dr. Levine has stayed laser-focused on helping the state of Pennsylvania manage and respond to COVID. The quality of her public service is reflected in the fact that she was confirmed not once, not twice, but three times by the Republican-led state senate to serve first as physician general and then as health secretary. The U.S. Senate should follow suit today and make Dr. Levine the Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services.”

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