On Tuesday, October 19, Dr. Rachel Levine was sworn in as the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps’ highest-ranking official. This position made her the first openly transgender four-star officer (admiral) in all of the USA’s eight uniformed services.
Dr. Rachel Levine is also the USPHS Commissioned Corps’ first female four-star admiral. After taking the oath of her leadership position, she added:
“This is a momentous occasion, and I am honored to take this role for the impact that I can make and for the historic nature of what it symbolizes. I stand on the shoulders of those LGBTQ+ individuals who came before me — both those known and unknown.”
63-year old Levine also said:
“May this appointment today be the first of many more to come as we create a diverse and more inclusive future.”
Meanwhile, US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, who is also the vice-admiral of the USPHS Commissioned Corps, said:
“I’m so grateful to work alongside a kind, principled leader like Admiral Levine…Her appointment represents an important step towards a more inclusive future…”
Who is Dr. Rachel Levine?
Rachel Levine is the US assistant secretary for health (since March 2021) and the leading admiral of the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. Levine is also a pediatrician and is one of the few high-ranking transgender officers in the US Government. She is also the first trans officer in a position that requires US Senate approval.
Dr. Rachel Levine was born on October 28, 1957, to Jewish parents who were both lawyers. She is a native of Wakefield, Massachusetts. After graduating from Harvard College, Levine attended Tulane University School of Medicine. She completed her residency in pediatrics in New York. Her fellowship or residency was in Mount Sinai Hospital from 1988 to 1993.
Levine joined Penn State Hershey Medical Center in 1993 and started clinics for adolescent medicine and eating disorders. In 2015, she was appointed Pennsylvania’s Physician General, a position she held until 2017 when she was made Secretary of Health of the state. She led the COVID-19 response in Pennsylvania during her tenure in 2020.
Rachel Levine, previously known as Richard, officially transitioned her gender in 2011. According to a 2016 profile by The Washington Post, Levine began her transition around 15 years ago.
In 2013, Rachel and her ex-wife Martha Peaslee Levine divorced. The two had married in 1988. The couple has two children, David and Dayna, who are both adults and working. Dayna reportedly became a radiologist in 2017.
Rachel Levine and her family were also reported to have been taking Taekwondo classes. She supposedly has a brown belt, while her son David is a black belt.