Dr. Rachel Levine, the transgender assistant secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), has been named one of USA TODAY’s “Women of the Year.” The nomination places Levine on a list of honorees that includes Melinda French Gates, Simone Biles, and Vice President Kamala Harris, amongst others.
The news outlet set out the criteria for nomination alongside publication of the list:
USA TODAY’s Women of the Year lead and inspire, promote and fight for equity, give others a place to seek help and find hope. They are strong and resilient women who have been champions of change and courage, often quietly, but with powerful results. And often despite their own challenges. […] Each has an inspiring and powerful story.
USA TODAY cited the 64-year-old, who is the first openly transgender four-star officer in the Uniformed Services, on the back of promotion to “the highest-ranking openly transgender official when the Senate confirmed her as assistant secretary of health.” The former Pennsylvania Secretary of Health was applauded by former colleagues. “I’m endlessly proud of Dr. Levine and her work,” Gov. Tom Wolf tweeted Monday. “What a well-deserved honor.” Levine ran Pennsylvania’s response to coronavirus in the wake of the first reported cases in the state back in March of 2020. Levine came under heavy scrutiny in 2020 after it was revealed the official’s 95-year-old mother was moved from a nursing home despite departmental advice, which initially urged nursing homes to admit “stable” coronavirus patients into the facilities.