Some days, it seems like all the news about the transgender community is nothing but hate crime after hate crime. Other days, I read about Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania's first transgender Physician General, and the world seems like a slightly better place. Levine, a doctor with almost 30 years of experience, was appointed by Pennsylvania Governor-elect Tom Wolf, Jezebel reports. She's currently a professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, where she also works as chief of the Division of Adolescent Medicine and Eating Disorders, although once she's confirmed she'll be the highest-ranking government member in Pennsylvania who is transgender.Governor Wolf described Levine as a "leading voice in efforts to treat teens with medical and psychological problems, as well as adults and children with eating disorders," according to Philadelphia magazine. To make her even more amazing, she has a long history of mentoring LGBT students, faculty, and staff with Penn State's Office of Diversity, and she's on the board of Equality PA. Could she possibly get any more badass? Of course she can! She created the aforementioned Division of Adolescent Medicine and Eating Disorders on her own. I seriously want to be her when I grow up. Judging from the press release in Philadelphia magazine, Governor Wolf is a pretty big fan as well:
Dr. Rachel Levine is well-respected in the fields of pediatrics, psychiatry, and behavioral health, where she has practiced for close to three decades... It is important to me that we place equal emphasis on behavioral and physical health issues. Dr. Levine will bring expertise and wide-ranging knowledge to this important role advising the secretary of Health and me on medical and public health matters.
The position of Physician General is essentially the Surgeon General at the state level, so Levine's duties would include advising the Governor on medical issues and public health policy.
Governor Wolf's choice came just a month after the Justice Department announced that it will interpret the Civil Rights Act as protecting transgender government employees, and less than a year after the NYC Department of Education issued new guidelines supporting transgender students. After Leelah Alcorn's tragic suicide and the many other tragedies involving the transgender community in 2014, it looks like 2015 is off to a better start. Here's hoping the trend continues. And even if it doesn't, at least we have the goddess among mortals known as Laverne Cox.
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