President Joe Biden’s nomination of Dr. Rachel Levine to the position of Assistant Health and Human Services Secretary drew a vicious wave of anti-trans attacks from right-wing media outlets and groups. On January 19, 2021, Levine became the first openly transgender person nominated to a Senate-confirmable position. At the time of her nomination, health organizations and LGBTQ advocacy groups celebrated Levine’s appointment as historical and an opportunity to advance policies that would protect and benefit members of the LGBTQ community.

Immediately following the news of her nomination, however, conservative media and anti-LGBTQ groups launched a smear campaign rooted in transphobia against Levine. These figures and organizations maliciously misgendered Levine and clung to the same talking points about Levine supporting “radical” medical care for trans youth. They also drew a false comparison between gender-affirming health care and child abuse. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was particularly active during Levine’s hearing, parroting these baseless accusations initiated by anti-LGBTQ groups and conservative media.

Despite the relentless transphobic attacks on Levine, the Senate voted to confirm her as Assistant Health and Human Services Secretary on March 24, 2021, making her the first openly transgender person to be confirmed to a Senate-confirmable position. Republican Senators overwhelmingly opposed Levine’s nomination, with all but two voting to reject her nomination. Republicans and conservative groups’ hostility toward Levine throughout the nomination process reflect the flawed confirmation processes that prevented a transgender person from holding such a high-level position in the federal government until 2021.

Nomination Timeline


Initial Media Reaction to Levine


Right-Wing Attacks on Levine


Attacks Against Levine During Hearings


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