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Biden’s pick for Health and Human Services role would be first transgender federal official confirmed by the Senate.


President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has tapped Pennsylvania’s secretary of health, Rachel Levine, to be assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services. She would be the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the Senate.

Mr. Biden has pledged to transgender and gender-nonconforming people in the United States and around the world that he would fight for their safety and dignity. His promise stands in stark contrast to the efforts of the Trump administration, which over the past four years has chipped away at protections.

In her current position, Dr. Levine has led Pennsylvania’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Dr. Rachel 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 — and meet the public health needs of our country in this critical moment and beyond,” Mr. Biden said in a statement Tuesday. “She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts.”

Under President Trump, Adm. Brett P. Giroir has held the position of assistant secretary of health at the Department of Health and Human Services and led the country’s Covid-19 testing efforts. Ahead of the holidays in December, Admiral Giroir encouraged people to avoid traveling if possible and to wear face masks — a position that has been mocked by Mr. Trump.

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