Lambda Legal Celebrates Historic Confirmation of Dr. Rachel L. Levine as HHS Assistant Secretary for Health

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March 24, 2021

Today, the United States Senate confirmed the appointment of Dr. Rachel L. Levine to lead the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health of the Department of Health and Human Services, a critical government agency charged with enhancing the health and well-being of all people in the country. Dr. Levine is the highest-ranking official in United States government who is openly transgender.

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

“The Senate’s confirmation of Dr. Levine marks the return of science, competence, and empathy to one of the most important institutions in our government and at one of the most critical public health moments in our nation’s history. Throughout her impressive career as a doctor and public servant, Dr. Levine has demonstrated a commitment to equity in health care and an understanding of how public health is inextricably linked to social justice. We welcome this approach with open arms.  

“It is also important to mark this important moment for the visibility and inclusion of transgender people as well as their contributions to our society. As the head of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Dr. Levine is the highest-ranking official in our government who is openly transgender and the first openly transgender person to be confirmed by the Senate. This is an historic moment, and we celebrate the progress that it represents.

“Congratulations to Dr. Levine and the entire department. We look forward to working together 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).