Rachel Levine sworn in as first openly transgender four-star admiral

Former Pa. health secretary became nation's highest-ranking openly transgender official in March

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U.S. Assistant Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine became the first openly transgender four-star officer in the uniformed services on Tuesday after she was sworn in as the first female four-star admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.

The Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday that Levine was ceremonially sworn in as a four-star admiral, making her the highest ranking official in the commissioned corps and leading 6,000 Public Health Service officers.

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The former Pennsylvania health secretary became the nation's highest-ranking openly transgender official in March after being nominated by President Biden.

HHS said in a press release that the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps is one of eight uniformed services – "and the only one dedicated solely to protecting, promoting and advancing America’s public health" by providing health care to "underserved and vulnerable populations or advancing practice, policy or research." 

The department described Levine’s swearing-in as a "major step forward" in creating "a more inclusive society."

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"This is a momentous occasion and I am pleased to take this role for the impact I can make, and for the historic nature of what it symbolizes," Levine said in the release. "May this appointment be the first of many like it as we create a more inclusive future."

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra called Levine a "cherished and critical partner in our work to build a healthier America."