GOP Rep. Jim Banks hit back after Rachel Levine became the nation’s first transgender four-star admiral, calling her a ‘man’ and a disappointment for ‘little girls.’
The Indiana Republican’s remarks drew pushback.
Levine, a Biden appointee, was sworn in as head of US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, which made her the nation’s highest-ranking transgender official. She will also continue to serve in her position as Assistant Secretary for Health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
‘The title of first female four-star official gets taken by a man,’ Banks tweeted in response to the news.
‘Calling someone that was born and lived as a man for 54 years the first ‘female’ four-star officer is an insult to every little girl who dreams of breaking glass ceilings one day,’ he wrote in a subsequent tweet.
Levine, 63, will lead the nearly 6,000-person force of public health professionals who respond to public health crises, including administering COVID vaccines, and national emergencies on behalf of the federal government.
Although Levine has never served as a sailor, the assistant secretary for health can be ranked as an admiral if they also serve as a uniformed officer of the USPHS Commissioned Corps.
Ruben Gonzales, executive director of LGBTQ Victory Institute, countered that Banks’ Remarks were ‘an insult to every little girl who dreams of an America where public servants will treat them with respect and judge them by their accomplishments,’ according to the IndyStar.
Some Twitter users called out the remarks as ‘transphobic.’
‘@RepJimBanks is so transphobic…wonder why???’ wrote one user.
‘Why do you care and what would your solution for the problem be? How many “little girls” did you survey to determine your POV?’ another user wrote in response.
‘One thing women really like is for men to tell us what we think,’ wrote another.
Rachel Levine, 63, will lead the nearly 6,000-person force of public health professionals who respond to public health crises
‘The title of first female four-star official gets taken by a man,’ Jim Banks tweeted in response to the news
Donald Trump Jr. defended the Trump-supporting Republican.
‘OUT: Follow the science. IN: Biological facts are “transphobic,”‘ Trump Jr. wrote, along with clown emojis. Banks retweeted the tweet.
President Biden nominated Levine to the high-ranking position in January, continuing his pattern of selecting a historically diverse slate of leaders for senior administration roles.
The professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the Penn State College of Medicine led Pennsylvania’s response to the novel coronavirus outbreak as the state’s top health official.
Levine ‘will bring the steady leadership and essential expertise we need to get people through this pandemic – no matter their zip code, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability,’ Biden said in a statement.
She then made history in March when she became the first transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
Prior to her appointment as admiral of the USPHS Commissioned Corps, Levine served as the Pennsylvania Department of Health secretary. Governor Tom Wolf appointed his deputy chief of staff, Alison Beam, to take over the public health position.
Levine, who was born Richard Levine in Massachusetts in 1957, attended a private boys school outside of Boston. She has talked openly about her transition, recalling that even as a young child: ‘All I knew is I wanted to be a girl, or I was a girl, or female.’
Levine began going to therapy about 20 years ago and slowly began growing her hair and coming out to her colleagues, students, patients, friends and family.
She completed her transition in 2013 after undergoing sex reassignment surgery and hormonal treatment, according to PennLive.
Levine said her appointment is ‘an extraordinary honor’ and noted the immense importance of her job as the world continues to combat the COVID pandemic
Before transitioning, Levine married Martha Peaslee while enrolled at Tulane and started a family. She reportedly remains close to her ex-wife, whom she divorced in 2013, and two adult children, Danya and David.
Moving from one gender to another, especially in your 50s, is a challenge,’ Rachel Levine told the Washington Post. ‘But it was very rewarding.’
‘I’m very confident in who I am.’
In 2017, she was named to NBC Out’s national #Pride30 list, for her impact on the LGBTQ community.