Dr. Rachel Levine will again make history, this time as the country’s first openly transgender four-star officer.
On Tuesday, Levine was sworn in as an admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, which leads the federal response to public health emergencies. It is one of the country’s eight uniformed service corps, distinguished from the six armed service branches by its focus on medical rather than military response.
In speaking with LGBT Nation, Levine said that her appointment “symbolizes progress,” as she is also the country’s first-ever four-star female admiral.
“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,” she added. “May this appointment be the first of many like it as we create a more inclusive future.”
Earlier this year, Levine was confirmed by the Senate as the Biden administration’s assistant secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Her confirmation along largely bipartisan lines made her the first openly trans individual confirmed to a federal post by the Senate.
Before her nomination to HHS, Levine served as the secretary of health in Pennsylvania, where she played a critical role in coordinating the pandemic response.
Although Levine has not previously served in the Commissioned Corps, the Washington Post reports that political appointees are frequently named to key positions within it. She was sworn in yesterday in a service that was streamed live on Twitter.
“I am deeply honored & grateful to join the ranks of men & women across this great nation who have committed to defend the United States against small & large threats, known and unknown,” she wrote in a post that accompanied the video. “I promise to uphold that trust to the fullest extent of my abilities.”
I am deeply honored & grateful to join the ranks of men & women across this great nation who have committed to defend the United States against small & large threats, known and unknown. I promise to uphold that trust to the fullest extent of my abilities. https://t.co/ryfwRqbAoz
— Dr. Rachel Levine (@HHS_ASH) October 19, 2021