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The Advocates 2024: Admiral Rachel Levine

The Advocates 2024: Admiral Rachel Levine


<p>The Advocates 2024: Admiral Rachel Levine</p>
courtesy The White House

The first out transgender federal official continues to firmly stand her ground despite relentless far-right attacks.

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Amid the hallowed halls of power in Washington, D.C., where the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services holds sway, Admiral Rachel Levine stands as both a paragon and a provocateur. As the first out transgender federal official confirmed by the U.S. Senate, her presence in such a revered institution challenges norms long reserved for cisgender men. Yet, it’s not just her historic appointment that captures attention; it’s also her unwavering resilience in the face of relentless adversity from right-wing factions. Speaking with The Advocate, Levine unfolds her story with the poise of someone accustomed to the spotlight’s glare yet unyielding to its heat.

“The more I’m attacked, the more it motivates me to work harder and to advocate more,” declares Levine, her determination shining — a testament to her indomitable spirit. “I am able to work them out myself and with my friends and my family,” she confides, revealing the intimate network that supports her.

Admiral Rachel Levine (right) greets Susan Thronson, chairperson of PFLAG's National Board of Directors, at an event in October 2023.Paul Morigi/Getty Images for PFLAG National

This year’s convergence of Transgender Day of Visibility with Easter sparked a firestorm of criticism from conservatives, with detractors claiming it overshadowed the Christian holiday. Levine labels the uproar as “faux outrage,” dismissing the conflict as manufactured. TDOV is on March 31 annually, whereas Easter floats.

Levine’s role extends beyond these cultural skirmishes. She leads critical public health initiatives like the Undetectable=Untransmittable HIV campaign and strategies to combat syphilis, highlighting that her work is always a collective effort. “Everything is a team effort at [the Department of Health and Human Services],” she notes, underscoring the collaborative ethos of her office.

Beyond bureaucracy and battles, Levine champions the transformative power of education and visibility in reshaping public perceptions, invoking Yoda’s wisdom. “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering.”

The Advocates is an annual feature celebrating 10 artists, activists, advocates, and others who strive to make the world a better place for all. Click hereto read about our other honorable Advocates, including cover star Cyndi Lauper!

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Christopher Wiggins

Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).
Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).