March 25, 2021 -- Rachel Levine has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate as assistant secretary of health, becoming the first openly transgender federal official to win Senate confirmation.
The vote Wednesday was 52-48 and the result was mostly along party lines. Only two Republicans -- Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine -- voted with all Democrats in supporting Levine, the Associated Press reported.
Levine, who had been Pennsylvania Health Secretary since 2017, is expected to be in charge of Health and Human Services offices and programs nationwide.
Levine's achievement is considered a historic breakthrough by transgender-rights activists because few trans people have held high-level state or federal offices, the AP reported.
A graduate of Harvard and of Tulane Medical School, Levine is president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. She's written in the past on the opioid crisis, medical marijuana, adolescent medicine, eating disorders and LGBTQ medicine, the AP reported.