After months of grueling debates and transphobic harassment from Republican senators, Dr. Rachel Levine has finally been sworn in as America’s new assistant secretary of health at the Department of Health and Human Services.
She was confirmed in a vote of 52-48, with Republicans Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins joining Democrats in confirming her.
It’s no surprise that almost every single Republican refused to confirm Dr. Levine. With their current conquest against the Equality Act, conservatives have launched a hate campaign against trans people, demonizing them as “perverts” in order to stoke fear and hatred amongst voters. It took courage and conviction for senators Murkowski and Collins to do what was right and go against their party.
It could also give a hint as to how the two will vote on the Equality Act in the future. It’s possible that this is a sign that Democrats have at least two Republican allies in the battle for civil rights.
As far as Dr. Levine’s qualifications for the job, she’s a highly skilled and renowned medical professional. Not only has she graduated from Harvard College and the Tulane School of Medicine, but she also trained at Mount Sinai in NYC, was the president of ASTHO, and served as Pensylvania’s secretary of health.
Despite the hardships that made Levine’s confirmation possible, it can’t be denied that this is a monumental day for trans people. It’s a day of celebration, of honoring the trailblazing leaders who made this possible, and of looking to the future. After the Trump administration did all it could to strip LGBTQ people of rights, it’s a bright and refreshing sign that, if we fight hard enough, the queer community can overcome adversity and change the world.