The new head of the federal Health and Human Services Department has vowed to support trans youth when she takes her new post on Capitol Hill.
Dr. Rachel Levine made history this week by becoming the first openly transgender person to hold an office that requires Senate confirmation.
The Harvard University graduate was confirmed to lead the federal HHS on Wednesday by a vote of 52-48, with GOP Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine joining all Democratic Senators in voting for her confirmation.
After she was named to lead the Department, Dr. Levine gave thanks to all the groundbreaking people who had come before her.
“I recognize that I may be the first, but am heartened by the knowledge that I will not be the last,” Levine wrote in a statement to the New York Times.
“When I assume this position, I will stand on the shoulders of those who came before — people we know throughout history, and those whose names we will never know because they were forced to live and work in the shadows.”
Dr. Levine also directly addressed transgender youth in her statement, offering her support and advocacy from her new office in Washington D.C.
“I know that each and every day you confront many difficult challenges,” she wrote. “Sadly, some of the challenges you face are from people who would seek to use your identity and circumstance as a weapon. It hurts. I know. I cannot promise you that these attacks will immediately cease, but I will do everything I can to support you and advocate for you.”
President Joe Biden nominated Dr. Levine to the position in February. In a statement at the time, President Biden said that Dr. Levine "will bring the steady leadership and essential expertise we need to get people through this pandemic — no matter their zip code, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability."