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Opinion: What Dr. Levine’s Historic Confirmation as Assistant Health Secretary Means for Transgender Representation

By Michael Alberto
Assistant Freeform Editor

“…positive representation of transgender people, even if it is just one person, can go a long way…”

On March 24th, Dr. Rachel Levine made history as the first openly transgender federal official to be sworn in. This confirmation is not only historic in the sense that Levine is the first federal official that is transgender to be confirmed by the Senate, but it is a milestone for transgender representation in the public that is sorely needed. 

Too often, transgender representation in the public eye misrepresents and reduces transgender people to their body parts while ignoring their humanity. 

Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine discusses the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan on Nov. 19, 2020.
Credit: Commonwealth Media Services

Additionally, film and media representation of transgender people in general is sparce, and when they are represented, it is usually not in a positive manner. 

The representation of transgender people in film and media often hyper sexualizes the individual and puts too much emphasis on genitalia, not respecting the human dignity of the individual and reducing them to a source of faciniation and mystery, not as the people they are. 

The confirmation of Levine gives a positive representation of transgender people in positions of power and authority. She was heavily involved in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic in the state of Pennsylvania. In her role as the Assistant Health Secretary of the United States, she becomes a positive role model for transgender people everywhere as her visibility is elevated toa wider audience. 

The positive representation of transgender people, even if it is just one person, can go a long way with regards to uplifitng the transgender community by providing more positive role models in the public eye. 

Seeing transgender people being successful and being their authentic selves is more of what the public should see and what should be portrayed. Trans youth are at severely high risks of self-harm and suicide, and the continual normalization and positive uplifting of the transgender community only helps to bring awareness and positivity for transgender people. 

Levine’s confirmation is only one small step in the effort to help promote trans rights in the nation.

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