The state Senate unanimously endorsed her in a 49-0 vote. Dr. Levine became the first transgender person to serve as a high-level official in Pennsylvania history. She is pleased to be a mentor to the transgender community but says her role as a physician comes first.
Levine will advise Democratic Governor Tom Wolf on medical and public health issues. She sees addiction to prescription drugs as one of Pennsylvania’s most dire problems.
According to the Pennsylvania Medical Society, “More Pennsylvanians die from drug overdoses than from any other type of injury, including car accidents. Pennsylvania also ranks 14th highest for drug overdose mortality rates. “
The new physician-general specializes in adolescent medicine and has run a clinic for young people with eating disorders. In keeping with her own personal history, Levine also counsels teenagers struggling with their gender identity.
“I’ve been addressing that issue all my life,” Levine said. “You don’t suddenly decide at 50-something that you’re transgender. Over the last 10 years, I’ve been investigating that and exploring that.”
Levine said she became very active in LGBT issues about 10 years ago. Levine currently serves as the liaison for LGBT Affairs for the Penn State Hershey Office of Diversity. In that role, she mentors and assists LGBT students, faculty and staff.
Dr. Rachel Levine’s appointment is fresh evidence of a growing acceptance of transgender people in the United States, even as discrimination against them remains legal in many jurisdictions, including Pennsylvania.