HHS' Dr. Rachel Levine sworn in as US' first openly transgender four-star officer

ByJacqueline Howard and Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN, CNNWire
Wednesday, October 20, 2021
Dr. Rachel Levine becomes nation's first transgender four-star officer
Dr. Levine became the first openly transgender person and the first woman to be sworn in as a four-star officer across any of the country's eight uniformed services.

Dr. Rachel Levine, the assistant secretary for health at the US Department of Health and Human Services, made history Tuesday as the first openly transgender four-star officer across the nation's eight uniformed services.

Levine was sworn in Tuesday as the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps' highest-ranking official.

"This is a momentous occasion, and I am honored to take this role for the impact that I can make and for the historic nature of what it symbolizes," Levine said in remarks after taking the oath of office Tuesday. "I stand on the shoulders of those LGBTQ+ individuals who came before me -- both those known and unknown."

"May this appointment today be the first of many more to come as we create a diverse and more inclusive future," she added.

SEE ALSO: LGBTQ activists applaud Biden's decision to tap Dr. Rachel Levine as assistant health secretary

Levine is also the USPHS Commissioned Corps' first female four-star admiral.

"We are extremely proud to have Dr. Levine join the 6,000 officers of the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps who serve on the front lines of our nation's fight against disease and poor health conditions," US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said during the ceremony.

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra called Levine's appointment "a giant step forward towards equality as a nation."

"This is a proud moment for us at HHS," he said in a statement.

Earlier this year, Levine became the first out transgender federal official to be confirmed by the Senate.

Levine, a pediatrician and former Pennsylvania health secretary, is the USPHS Commissioned Corps' sixth four-star admiral.

The-CNN-Wire & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.