Transgender advocates react to Dr. Rachel Levine’s potential new post

This Week in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — President-Elect Joe Biden is tapping into his Pennsylvania roots once again by nominating Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine to be his assistant secretary of health.

“There’s kids that see that and see her and say, ‘there’s an opportunity for me,'” said Joanne Carroll, executive director of Trans Advocacy Pennsylvania.

Dr. Levine has been fighting against COVID-19 for the past year, but she’s been fighting for transgender people for decades.

“It doesn’t take long when you’re in kind of a technical discussion with her to know pretty well that she knows what she’s talking about,” Carroll said.

“She looks at it like everyone is a human being. She doesn’t see color. She doesn’t see things that block her from viewing someone,” said Janelle Crossley, advocate for gender identity in Central Pennsylvania.

If confirmed, Levine will be the first openly transgender federal official.

“There’s more of us and more of us that are coming into reality and recognizing that we don’t have to live in a world of what could be or should be — we can live in what is,” Carroll said.

Living authentically isn’t always easy for transgender people. Dr. Levine has been the target of hate speech and transphobic gimmicks. It’s a reality that’s all too familiar, according to Crossley.

“It sends a lot of people into turmoil and, you know, suicide is terrible. The suicide rate is very high,” Crossley said.

Both women hope Dr. Levine’s possible national stage will help everyone realize that transgender people are just like everybody else.

“We can do our jobs just as good as we could do our job before we transitioned or before we come out — if not even better,” Crossley said.

They are better and braver for the future Dr. Levines of America.

“The road gets wider as more and more of us choose authenticity,” Carroll said.

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