Remarkable Event in the Keystone State

 photo Levine_zps4ejrjxgy.jpgThe Pennsylvania Senate voted 49-0 on Tuesday to confirm Dr. Rachel Levine as the state physician general. Dr. Levine obtained her undergraduate degree from Harvard and her medical degree from the Tulane School of Medicine. She did her residency in pediatrics at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. Most recently she has served as chief of Adolescent Medicine and Eating Disorders at vice chair for Clinical Affairs for the Department of Pediatrics at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

While at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, Dr. Levine led the initiation of a Division of Adolescent Medicine for the care of complex teens with medical and psychological problems. She also started the Penn State Hershey Eating Disorders Program, which offers multidisciplinary treatment for children, adolescents, and adults with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.

Dr. Levine has also worked closely with the Penn State Hershey Office of Diversity as the liaison for LGBT Affairs, mentoring and assisting LGBT students, faculty and staff.

She is an excellent physician. This was a good nomination. This is a highly qualified and smart person. That has to be said first and foremost.

--Ted Martin, executive director, Equality Pennsylvania

{Rachel is] an amazing individual, loving and caring parent and spouse and friend. And she's an amazing doctor. With all those things put together she couldn't be a better choice in my mind.

I would want Pennsylvanians to understand that she's not there to represent the LGBT community. She's there to look after the health of all Pennsylvanians regardless of their lot in life may be.

--Joanne Carroll, TransCentral PA

Why those quotes? Although it was not an issue during the confirmation process, Dr. Levine is a transgender woman.

I am very pleased to serve as a mentor and a role model for LGBT individuals.


I am very proud to have served on the board of Equality PA with Dr. Levine. She is an excellent physician and we look forward to her tenure as the Physician General of Pennsylvania.

--Jessica Rothchild, president of the board of Equality Pennsylvania

I think it's important to emphasize that I was not nominated to this position by Gov. Wolf or confirmed by the Senate because I am a transgender woman.

It goes to show that we're normal people trying to live a life that makes sense for us and, hopefully, makes sense for other people.


We can’t miss the fact that it’s incredibly historic. A qualified person and a person from the [LGBT] community marrying up in one person is a remarkable step forward. I think it’s good for everyone.


It would not be out of place to note that this has occurred in a state in which Dr. Levine has no legal protection from discrimination.

There is no statewide law protecting LGBT individuals from workplace discrimination. In 1975, Pennsylvania became the first U.S. state in which an executive order was issued providing for discrimination protection on the basis of sexual orientation in state employment. In 2003, gender identity was added to this executive order and the order has been reissued by every governor since then.

For more than ten years, legislation that would protect LGBT people statewide from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity has awaited action in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. On December 17, 2013, Governor Tom Corbett announced his support for such legislation with respect to sexual orientation after learning that federal law did not already provide such protection as he had previously thought. He said he anticipated bipartisan support for the legislation.


LGBT protections were added to the hate crimes law in 2002, but that action was found to be unconstitutional in 2006.

Pennsylvania is Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between,

--James Carville




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