Lambda Legal Celebrates Biden Nomination of Dr. Rachel L. Levine as Assistant Secretary of HHS

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January 19, 2021

Today, the incoming Biden-Harris administration has announced plans to tap Dr. Rachel L. Levine to serve as assistant secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. If confirmed, Dr. Levine will be the first Senate-confirmed official in United States government who is openly transgender.

Lambda Legal CEO, Kevin Jennings, issued the following statement:

“We are thrilled at the appointment of Dr. Rachel L. Levine as assistant secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. As the Secretary of Health for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, a professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the Penn State College of Medicine, and the President of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, and a graduate of both Harvard University and Tulane Medical School, Dr. Levine is an eminently qualified pick to serve in this key position in our government. She will also be the first Senate-confirmed official who is openly transgender. Her qualifications and professional experience make her an obvious choice for this position, but her life experience and visibility will inspire, and perhaps even save the lives of, countless young transgender people who face discrimination at every turn.

“Dr. Levine’s life experience also gives her a unique understanding of not only the needs of the LGBTQ community but also the importance of paying attention to those who have been historically excluded and marginalized by our medical system, thus enabling her to play an especially important role in helping HHS fulfill its mission ‘to enhance the health and well-being’ of all Americans. We applaud this historic and wise choice; the Senate should confirm her appointment as soon as possible. We look forward to working with Dr. Levine and the rest of the department to ensure that everyone is healthy and able to thrive.”

Lambda Legal has been fighting for LGBTQ people during this global public health crisis. In June 2020, we sued the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, after Trump administration officials published a rule that sought to carve out LGBTQ patients and other vulnerable populations from the protections of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (see here). Earlier in the same year, in March 2020, we filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration for refusing to enforce nondiscrimination protections for our communities in HHS-funded programs (see here).

Lambda Legal has successfully fought back against prior attempts by the Trump administration to invite discrimination against LGBTQ people. In November 2019, as a result of Lambda Legal’s lawsuit, a federal court vacated the Trump administration’s Denial-of-Care Rule, which invited discrimination in health care against LGBTQ people based on others’ religious or moral beliefs (see here).


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Graciela González, Cell: 312-545-8140; Email:

Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people, and everyone living with HIV through impact litigation, education, and public policy work.