: Photo from Wikimedia Commons / Author of Photo: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Rachel Levine

  • Was born as a boy named Richard in 1957
  • Officially declared herself a female in 2011
  • Served on the board of Equality Pennsylvania, a statewide homosexual and transgender advocacy group
  • Was appointed as Pennsylvania’s Physician General in 2015
  • Was appointed as Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health in 2018
  • More than 12,000 COVID elderly victims in Pennsylvania nursing homes died under Levine's watch in 2020.
  • Removed her own 95-year-old mother from a nursing home at that time
  • Presided over a very slow and inefficient rollout and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in late 2020
  • Was nominated in 2021 by President Biden to serve as the Assistant Secretary for Health at HHS
  • Has advocated for allowing minors to receive hormone blockers as well as genital-mutilation surgeries

Rachel Levine was born into a Jewish household as a boy named Richard Leland Levine on October 28, 1957, in Wakefield, Massachusetts. Levine attended a conservative Hebrew shul and was bar mitzvahed at the age of 13, but would later join the much more liberal Reform Judaism movement.

After attending the boys-only Belmont Hill School in Belmont, Massachusetts, Levine earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College in the late 1970s and an MD (with a specialty in pediatric medicine) from the Tulane University School of Medicine in 1983. He also spent time as a resident at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York from 1988 to 1993.

During his fourth year at Tulane, Levine (while still identifying as a male) met and married a fellow student named Martha Peaslee, who later went on to become an associate professor of pediatrics, psychiatry and humanities at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Pennsylvania. The couple had two children before getting divorced in 2013.

Levine reports that he himself was still a young boy when he first began noticing that he felt as if he was actually female. In the mid-1990s Levine began what he has described as a 15-year process to fully transition from male to female. In 2011, he publicly announced himself as a transgender woman.

While working as a doctor (in charge of the adolescent medicine and eating disorders clinic) at the aforementioned Hershey Medical Center in 2014, Levine also served on the board of Equality Pennsylvania, a statewide homosexual and transgender advocacy group. Moreover, he was the liaison for LGBT Affairs at the Hershey Medical Center’s Office of Diversity. In early January of 2015, Pennsylvania’s Democratic Governor-elect Tom Wolf appointed Levine to his transition team, where he helped formulate policies related to health matters.

In 2015 as well, Gov. Wolf appointed Levine as Pennsylvania’s Physician General, and the State Senate unanimously confirmed him for that post on June 9 of that year. Focusing on LGBTQ and diversity issues, Levine soon became a darling of the political left in Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle, for instance, hailed him as the first openly transgender person to hold the position of Physician General in Pennsylvania. He was also named the grand marshal of the Philadelphia Pride Parade in 2015.

In 2018, Governor Wolf appointed Levine as Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health. Beginning early in 2020, Levine assisted Wolf in implementing widespread lockdowns designed to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic associated with coronavirus.

Most significantly, Levine’s record on protecting the elderly population of Pennsylvania during the COVID pandemic was abysmal. On March 18, 2020, he ordered that no nursing homes in his state would be allowed to deny admission or re-admission to COVID patients, even if they were knowingly suffering from the disease. Consequently, the pandemic spread like wildfire through Pennsylvania’s nursing homes, and more than 12,000 COVID victims died in those facilities while Levine was the state’s Health Secretary.

Moreover, a great deal of data about the COVID-related casualties that occurred in at least 138 of Pennsylvania’s 693 nursing homes mysteriously went missing, causing some Republican officials – like Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives majority leader Kerry Benninghoff and congressional Rep. Mike Kelly — to suspect the possibility of a cover-up. The inaccessibility of that data, said the news outlet Spotlight PA, “obscur[ed] deadly outbreaks and [made] it difficult for families and resident advocates to monitor COVID-19 hotspots.” When Republican U.S. Senator Susan Collins — during a February 2021 hearing before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions — asked Levine to explain why so much data was still incomplete, Levine cited lags in the state’s Electronic Death Reporting System.

On March 29, 2020 – eleven days after Levine had issued his aforementioned nursing-home order, he removed his own 95-year-old mother from the nursing home where she was living at that time. Levine defended the move by stating: “My mother requested, and my sister and I as her children complied to move her to another location during the Covid-19 outbreak. My mother is 95 years old. She is very intelligent and more than competent to make her own decisions.” As investigative reporter Daniel Greenfield later pondered: “Many … wondered what kind of message it sends — when a close relative of the person tasked with overseeing those types of facilities doesn’t choose to stay in one.”

In March 2020 as well, Levine was named president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. During an interview in which he participated approximately seven weeks later, he became highly agitated when radio personality Marty Griffin twice called him “sir.” Levine told Griffin several times, “please don’t misgender me.”

In the city of Harrisburg on June 3, 2020, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf marched in a large protest in memory of George Floyd, a black man who had died as a result of a highly publicized physical altercation with a white Minneapolis police officer nine days earlier. The size of that protest far exceeded the 250-person limit that Governor Wolf himself had recently placed on all outdoor gatherings in Harrisburg. When reporters subsequently asked Levine why the Harrisburg demonstrators had been allowed to violate Wolf’s order with impunity, he indicated that exceptions were permissible for rallies related to “significant social issues” like racism. “The governor has always said that people have the right to protest, and to demonstrate, and the right to free speech,” said Levine, “and so overall, we want large gatherings such as maybe a party or some type of concert or something, to be under 250 people. But we are not restricting people’s right to protest. There are all obviously significant social issues that are present, that people feel that they need to have a voice, and so the governor is always supportive of that and is participating.”

In August 2020, Levine refused to answer a reporter’s question asking why he and the Carlisle Car Show had secretly entered into a confidential agreement allowing that four-day outdoor event to take place as scheduled — even though it drew some 20,000 attendees per day, thereby violating the so-called “green phase” restrictions limiting all outdoor events in Pennsylvania to 250 people. “Any type of ongoing legal issue, you know I can’t really comment on,” said Levine. Outraged by Levine’s secretly negotiated agreement, Butler County District Attorney Richard Goldlinger said: “Governor Wolf has sent a letter to local law enforcement asking them to enforce his mask mandate, yet they’re making confidential agreements to allow large congregations of people to come together. They’re talking out of both sides of their mouths.”

Beginning late in 2020, Levine presided over a very slow and inefficient rollout and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. In November 2020 he said, “We anticipate we’re going to be rolling this out through the winter and then into the spring and into the summer. It could take a significant amount of time to immunize everyone in Pennsylvania. I anticipate we’re going to be wearing masks well into 2021, maybe to the end of 2021.”

On January 19, 2021, Democratic President Joe Biden nominated Levine to serve as the Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services. On March 24, 2021, Levine became the first openly transgender person ever confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The vote was 52-48 in his favor, with all 50 Democrats as well as two Republicans — Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski — voting to confirm him. “She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts,” Biden said in a statement, praising Levine’s “steady leadership and essential expertise.”

On February 25, 2021, Republican Senator Rand Paul, who is a physician by training, questioned Levine vis-à-vis the latter’s support for dangerous medical procedures for minors identifying as transgender – procedures designed to prevent the youngsters from going through what Levine called “the wrong puberty.” Specifically, Levine has advocated for allowing minors to receive hormone blockers as well as genital-mutilation surgeries whose physical effects are irreversible. After Paul pointed out that genital mutilation is viewed as “a violation of human rights” almost everywhere in the world, and that “80 to 95 percent of prepubertal children with gender dysphoria” snap out of it “by late adolescence” if left alone, he asked Levine: “Do you believe that minors are capable of making such a life-changing decision as changing one’s sex?” Levine replied evasively: “Well, Senator thank you for your interest in this question. Transgender medicine is a very complex and nuanced field with robust research and standards of care that have been developed. And if I am fortunate enough to be confirmed as the Assistant Secretary of Health, I will look forward to working with you and your office and coming to your office and discussing the particulars of the standards of care for transgender medicine.”

Senator Paul then tried again: “Do you support the government intervening to override the parent’s consent to give a child puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and/or amputation surgery of breasts and genitalia?” In reply, Levine repeated the obviously rehearsed “thank you for your interest” remarks almost verbatim.

During a Pride Month Town Hall which was live-streamed by the Democratic National Committee in late June 2022, Levine accused “opponents of LGBTQ equality” of “target[ing] trans and queer youth to score political points.” “Every major medical association agrees: gender-affirming care is life-saving, medically necessary, age-appropriate and a critical tool for health care providers,” added Levine. “As a pediatrician, when it comes to making sure kids are healthy and happy, I know how important care that affirmed someone’s true identity can be.” In response to Levine’s remarks, Florida Department of Health spokesman Jeremy T. Redfern told Fox News Digital: “The Surgeon General is opposed to experimental and irreversible medical treatments on children and teenagers that suffer from gender dysphoria. The idea that this makes anyone at the Department of Health an ‘opponent of LGBTQ equality’ is nothing more than a poorly attempted character assassination.”

During a July 18, 2022 appearance on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports, Levine argued in favor of “gender-affirmation treatment” for transgender young people in states where legislatures had blocked such procedures. “Well, you know, trans youth are vulnerable, and they suffer significant harassment and bullying, sometimes in schools or their community,” said Levine. “They have more mental health issues, but there’s nothing inherent with being transgender or gender diverse, which would predispose youth to depression or anxiety. It is that harassment and bullying. Now they are suffering politically motivated attacks through state actions against these vulnerable transgender youth. This is not based upon data. These actions are politically motivated. And so we really want to base our treatment and to affirm and to support and empower these youth, not to limit their participation activities in sports, and even limit their ability to get gender-affirmation treatment in their state.”

Further Reading:Dr. Rachel Levine” (Fact-files.com)