Biden’s nomination of transgender doctor instills hope in Columbus LGBTQ+ organization


FILE – In this March 12, 2020, file photo, Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Rachel Levine provides an update on the coronavirus known as COVID-19 in Harrisburg, Pa. President-elect Joe Biden has tapped Levine to be his assistant secretary of health, leaving her poised to become the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. (Joe Hermitt/The Patriot-News via AP, File)

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – The administration of incoming President Joe Biden announced a nomination Tuesday morning that means so much to the LGBTQ community.

Dr. Rachel Levine has been tapped by Biden to serve as assistant secretary of health. She is the first openly transgender official who’s on track to be approved by United States Senate.

And here in Ohio, the executive director of Stonewall Columbus is sharing his thoughts about the appointment, saying the impact is far-reaching.

“To be able to say there’s a trans person out there in front of the world, speaking up and just living in such a public way, is immeasurable,” Densil Porteous, Stonwall Columbus’ executive director, said.

Levine is currently serving as Pennsylvania’s secretary of health.

“So I think, in these moments, when you see LGBTQ identities showing up in spaces and places we don’t traditionally see them, it’s exciting,” Porteous said. “You know, Pete Buttigieg ran for president but now he’s also potentially going to be part of the Biden Administration. That continues that representation in critical and important ways.”

Buttigieg was the first openly gay candidate for president to win delegates and has been chosen by Biden to serve as the administration’s Secretary of Transportation.

Porteous hopes this inspires not only queer youth but also fresh ideas in government.

“What I hope, on this moment, is that we will see elected officials and appointed officials who feel comfortable in this time to bring their full selves to work, which will then inspire and impact legislation, will inspire and impact social understanding,” he said.

More understand of the LGBTQ community is important, Porteous added.

“That’s why I hope is that it’s not only changing minds on what people can do, but also changing hearts about who people are,” he said.

Both Levine and Buttigieg’s nominations will require Senate approval, which is politically divided 50-50, with incoming Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the tie-breaking vote should it be necessary.

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