Is HHS right calling Rachel Levine ‘first female four-star admiral?’


Fact Box

  • On October 19, 2021, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the first “openly transgender four-star officer and first female four-star admiral” Rachel Levine as head of USPHS. 
  • Levine made history as the first openly trans federal officer for HHS confirmed by the Senate in a 52-48 vote on March 24, 2021. 
  • A ‘transgender woman’ or ‘transwoman’ is a male-to-female person; a person born male but whose gender identity is female. ‘Transgender’ is defined as “of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity differs from the sex the person has or was identified as having at birth.”. 
  • A February 2021 Gallup poll reported that LGBTQ identification overall had risen in the US to an estimated 5.6%, with 11.3% of that percentage identifying as transgender.

Jani (No)

Dr. Rachel Levine was born a biological male in Wakefield, Massachusetts, on October 28, 1957. Levine was anatomically male with a given birth name of Richard for much of her adult life. Richard Levine married his wife in 1998 and fathered two children, a feat (impregnating another) that is humanly impossible for a female. Females get impregnated; males impregnate. 

Because Levine was born anatomically and biologically a male, he had to undergo a 'transition' process to identify as a woman. While he started growing his hair long in 2008, Dr. Levine did not publicly announce himself as a woman until 2011. The transition from presenting as a man to presenting as a woman required years of physical manipulation and therapy to develop, including hormone treatments and Sexual Reassignment Surgery (SRS). 

SRS is a painful process by which the 'appearance and function of a person's existing physical sexual characteristics are altered to resemble those associated with their identified gender.' Other Medical providers define SRS as a medical 'procedure to transition individuals with gender dysphoria to their desired gender.' Even the definition states that one's technical biology stays the same after SRS. Scientifically speaking, it's impossible to change one's sex, which is determined at conception and is embedded in one's DNA

Medical News Today recognizes that 'a person typically has their sex assigned at birth based on physiological characteristics and genitalia.' Identifying as or 'transitioning' to the opposite sex does not make it genetically true or correct. If society recognizes people by their chosen gender rather than by established science and DNA, then the concept of sex becomes insignificant, cheapening the basic principals of law which define human life. 


Tyler (Yes)

The US Public Service Corps' decision to refer to Rachel Lavine as 'female' while honoring her should be common sense to others and is a sign that society is growing to be more open-minded. Lavine's transition from male to female has been documented and should be respected.

Rachel Levine had to overcome the trials of being a transgender woman while serving for the United States. Despite women filling up 70% of general health care positions, 69% of global health organization leaders are made up of men. Although women dominate the health field overall, that statistic still hasn't transitioned to positions of power, making Levine's recognition that much more impressive. On top of acknowledging her full transition, Levine has been at the forefront of promoting legislation and causes for women's and transgender rights. 

Levine fully transitioned in 2011 and wasn't elected as Pennsylvania's Physician General until 2015. Her most recent honor was not achieved until a decade after her transition. She became a woman before reaching her most notable positions, proving that she followed the path of a transgender woman and not a man.

Levine identifying and transitioning as a woman should be enough for her to receive that recognition which would empower generations of women and transgender women after her. Even before receiving the honor of becoming a four-star admiral, Levine also became the first transgender federal official in the United States. Misgendering Levine would be a shame to women across the country searching for a role model in the highest level of US government.

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