The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced the nation's first out transgender four-star officer across any of the eight uniformed services of the United States.
Admiral Rachel Levine, who serves as the HHS Assistant Secretary for Health and head of the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps, was ceremonially sworn in as a four-star admiral.
Admiral Levine now serves as the highest-ranking official in the USPHS Commissioned Corps and its first-ever female four-star admiral. Admiral Levine will lead 6,000 Public Health Service officers who are dedicated to serving our nation's most underserved and vulnerable populations.
Today's historic announcement builds on the accomplishments of LGBTQ+ History Month.
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said that making Levine an admiral is a proud moment for HHS. "She is a highly accomplished pediatrician who helps drive our agency's agenda to boost health access and equity and to strengthen behavioral health," Secretary Becerra explained. "She is a cherished and critical partner in our work to build a healthier America.
In response to becoming a four-star officer, Levine said, "This is a momentous occasion, and I am both humbled and pleased to take this role for the impact I can make, and for the historic nature of what it symbolizes. May this appointment be the first of many like it as we create a more inclusive future."
Earlier this month, Levine spoke to The Advocate in an exclusive interview, where she provided an update to all the work she's been doing during the first six months of her tenure as Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services. "I'm very much enjoying the job. We have a fantastic staff, and Secretary Becerra is wonderful, sincere, and compassionate. I love collaboration, and that collaboration for the issues we're working on extends all the way up to the president and vice president, and that's something that Americans of every stripe should take great comfort with."