Statements by Officials of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Commemorating the First Openly Transgender Four-Star Officer and First Female Four-Star Admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps on October 19, 2021
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) publicly announced today the nation’s first openly transgender four-star officer across any of the eight uniformed services of the United States. Admiral Rachel Levine, who serves as the HHS Assistant Secretary for Health and head of the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps, was ceremonially sworn in as a four-star admiral. Admiral Levine now serves as the highest ranking official in the USPHS Commissioned Corps and its first-ever female four-star admiral. Admiral Levine will lead 6,000 Public Health Service officers who are dedicated to serving our nation’s most underserved and vulnerable populations.
Today’s historic announcement builds on the accomplishments of LGBTQ+ History Month and is a major step forward as we work to create a more inclusive society. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Rachel Levine, and the U.S. Surgeon General Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy issued the following statements to commemorate the first openly transgender four-star officer and the first female four-star admiral of the USPHS Commissioned Corps:
“Admiral Levine’s historic appointment as the first openly transgender four-star officer is a giant step forward towards equality as a nation. This is a proud moment for us at HHS. Admiral Levine — a highly accomplished pediatrician who helps drive our agency’s agenda to boost health access and equity and to strengthen behavioral health — is a cherished and critical partner in our work to build a healthier America.” U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary, Xavier Becerra
“I am humbled to serve as the first female four-star officer of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and first openly transgender four-star officer across any of the 8 uniformed services. 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. May this appointment be the first of many like it as we create a more inclusive future.” U.S. Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Health, Admiral Rachel Levine
“I’m so grateful to work alongside a kind, principled leader like Admiral Levine, and it is my honor to celebrate her historic appointment as the first female four-star officer to serve in the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps and as the first openly transgender four-star officer to serve in any of the uniformed services. Her appointment represents an important step towards a more inclusive future, and her service will undoubtedly advance the USPHS Commissioned Corps’ mission to protect, promote, and advance the health and safety of our nation.” U.S. Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy
Housed under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and led by the Assistant Secretary for Health and U.S. Surgeon General, 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. Public Health Service officers serve throughout the nation in communities that are most in need by providing health care to underserved and vulnerable populations or advancing practice, policy, or research. As America’s Health Responders, Public Health Service officers are the first in line to defend our nation’s public health against threats large and small.