Now the pediatrician Levine is the first transgender woman to take up a high-ranking ministry post. The US Senate on Wednesday confirmed Levine’s nomination as deputy health minister with a narrow majority. The “historic” premiere was welcomed by the White House.
“That Dr. Levine is the first openly transgender American to be ratified by the Senate is a turning point in US history, ”a White House communications official tweeted. The pediatrician was confirmed in the Senate by 52 votes to 48 – only two Republicans joined the Democratic Senators and voted for Levine: Lisa Murkowski from Alaska and Susan Collins from Maine.
Levine, 63, was Pennsylvania Secretary of Health and Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at Penn State College of Medicine until January.
Banned for the armed forces again in January
Shortly after the nomination, Biden had also lifted the transgender ban for the US military by executive order. According to the White House, the ban initiated by Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump will be withdrawn. “President Biden is of the opinion that gender identity should not be a measure of a military career,” it said in a statement, “America’s strength grows from its diversity.” Inclusion also applies to the US Army.
Transgender people are people who do not – or not only – identify with the gender that was recorded when they were born. It is estimated that there are between 1,320 and 15,000 transgender people among the 1.3 million active members of the US armed forces. It was only in 2016 that the former US President Barack Obama decreed that transgender people should openly serve in the US military and receive medical support there.