Tag: Official

Dr. Rachel Levine makes history as first trans official confirmed by Senate. It’s about time. / LGBTQ Nation

Dr. Rachel Levine makes history as first trans official confirmed

Dr. Rachel Levine

Dr. Rachel LevinePhoto: Provided

Dr. Rachel Levine has been confirmed in a bipartisan Senate vote to be assistant secretary of health at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Levine’s historic nomination has now also earned her the distinction of being the first transgender federal official to be confirmed.

Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) joined all Democrats in voting yes.

Related: Pundit goes on crazed rant attacking trans health official he wants “chased out” of the state

“Dr. Levine’s nomination represents a historic first for the transgender community in the United States,” said Equality PAC Co-Chairs Reps. Mark Takano (D-CA) and David Cicilline (D-RI). “Through all the transphobic attacks and bigotry that Dr. Levine endured during her confirmation process, she persevered, and the work and her determination paid off. We want to extend our enthusiastic congratulations to Dr. Levine on this amazing achievement and we thank President Biden for his decision to appoint Dr. Levine to this important post.”

“As we continue to battle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we could not think of a better, more capable person to help lead the Department of Health and Human Services.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) went on an anti-transgender tirade when questioning Dr. Levine during her nomination committee hearing, using demeaning and insulting language.

Nominating Levine signaled the importance of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic for the Biden administration. As surgeon general of the state of Pennsylvania, she led the state’s response to the pandemic, at times facing heavy criticism – and straight-up transphobia – from conservatives in her state.

“Dr. Rachel Levine is a remarkable public servant with the knowledge and experience to help us contain this pandemic, and protect and improve the health and well-being of the American people,” said Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in a statement. “President-elect Biden and I look forward to working with her to meet the unprecedented challenges facing Americans and rebuild our country in a way that lifts everyone up.”

Her appointment also signals the Biden administration’s commitment to end attacks on LGBTQ health. HHS was at the center of numerous attacks on LGBTQ people during the Trump administration.

“Today, with Dr. Rachel Levine’s historic confirmation, transgender Americans will be able to see themselves in a position of profound leadership,” Erin Uritus, CEO of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, said. “Dr. Levine’s confirmation is more important than ever. Her leadership and expertise will help guide our country out of the COVID-19 pandemic into healthier, brighter days.

“Dr. Levine’s confirmation is significant on many levels. In recent years, HHS has served as a tool to target LGBTQ – especially transgender – healthcare rights. Dr. Levine will be able to bring new skillsets and empathy into this position to help protect LGBTQ healthcare rights.”

During the Trump administration, HHS spent four years attempting to roll back LGBTQ protections based on Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act so that health care providers could more easily discriminate; rolling back anti-LGBTQ discrimination protections for the recipients of HHS grant money, funds that often go to adoption and fostering agencies as well as health care and homelessness programs; redefining “gender” to mean “sex assigned at birth” in order to legally erase transgender identity; scrubbed LGBTQ health care information from its website; and stopped funding HIV/AIDS research that involves fetal tissue, which is necessary for many aspects of HIV/AIDS research.

While she was confirmed three times by the GOP-controlled state senate during her tenure at Pennsylvania’s Department of Health, she faced an unprecedented deluge of transphobic attacks as she tried to get Pennsylvanians to wear masks and practice social distancing.

Last year, an evangelical minister exhorted his followers to “rise up” and “chase” the doctor out of the state. He repeatedly referred to her as “it,” “a man,” and a “freak transvestite.”

“You are absolutely insane if you let that transvestite freak rule your life,” pastor Rick Wiles screamed. “You’re going to that transvestite freak? Seriously?”

In July, a Pennsylvania tavern apologized for a transphobic menu item designed to taunt Dr. Levine. And around the same time, a popular Pennsylvania fair, the Bloomsburg Fair, used a Dr. Levine “impersonator” (which was a man in a wig and a dress) in their dunk tank and published a mocking Facebook post about it.

Gay Biden official sends powerful message of LGBT+ inclusion

US State Department spokesman Ned Price

The US state department’s official spokesperson Ned Price has spoken about the importance of LGBT+ representation.

The Biden administration official, who is the first ever openly gay man to be named spokesperson for the US department of state, led his first televised press briefing on Tuesday (2 February).

LGBT+ activists say the appointment of the 38-year-old gay former CIA official to serve as the country’s voice on international issues sends a clear message to the 70 countries where homosexuality remains criminalized.

Innanoshe Richard Akuson, a Nigerian LGBT rights activist, told ABC: “It’s incredibly important for queer people in countries where homosexuality and queerness is a death sentence.”

State department spokesperson Ned Price says inclusiveness and representation matter

Speaking to ABC ahead of his first briefing, Price said: “The point that… President Biden himself has made is that we need a national security workforce that looks like the country we represent, and that’s especially important for the Department of State that’s speaking to rest of world.

“Both in our word and our deed, our values of inclusiveness and strength in diversity will be on full display. Representation matters.”

US State Department spokesman Ned Price
US State Department spokesman Ned Price (Getty/NICHOLAS KAMM)

Biden administration has vowed to appoint a new LGBT+ envoy

Biden’s secretary of state Antony Blinken has also vowed to set about restoring the role of international envoy on LGBT+ human rights, which was introduced under Barack Obama but quietly gutted – alongside much of the department’s work on international LGBT+ rights – under the Trump administration.

Blinken said last month that filling the role was “a matter, I think, of some real urgency”.

He added: “We’ve seen violence directed against LGBTQI people around the world increase. We’ve seen, I believe, the highest number of murders of transgender people, particularly women of colour, that we’ve seen ever.

“And so I think the United States playing the role that it should be playing in standing up for and defending the rights of LGBTQI people is something that the department is going to take on and take on immediately.”

Official trailer for season two is finally here

Lawrence Chaney rides giant bagpipes while other queens pose outside an entrance

Things got, er, odd in the first trailer for RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. (Screen captures via Twitter)

Drag queens, start your engines – the official trailer for the long-awaited second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK dropped Sunday evening (3 January) and yup, we are absolutely gagging for it.

Immediately sparking hope that maybe 2021 won’t be a truly cursed dumpster fire like the year prior was, the trailer was released on BBC Three’s official Twitter and we’re honestly suspect David Lynch directed it as it is weird. Very weird.

“*Screams* The Drag Race UK series two trailer is here!!!!” the tweet read. “*Continues screaming until 14 January at 7pm when the first episode drops on BBC iPlayer*.”

“Hey sis!” RuPaul begins in the video. “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?”

Sheep, tea and a lot of glitter: Drag Race UK is shaping up to be aggressively British 

The camera zooms out to reveal a backstage room where the queens can be seen doing everything from riding horses to walking sheep while puppies run around them in the surreal preview.

Television monitors with Mama Ru’s face can be seen around the room, belting some of her famous lines in what is essentially RuPaul’s 1984, as the 12 contestants shimmy and dance.

There are many, many meme-worthy moments, but seeing the franchise’s first Scottish contestant, Lawrence Chaney, riding a giant bagpipe as she shouts “slow down, Nessie” is certainly one fever dream-grade highlight.

As well as Tayce hypnotically saying her name over and over again and Tia Kofi wearing a tea cup shaped dress, because Britain, we guess.

Returning 14 January on BBC iPlayer, the new season will see RuPaul, Michelle Visage, Alan Carr and Graham Norton preside over a diverse new cast of queens.

It will also see a constellation of UK talent joining the judging panel, including Dawn French, Maya Jama and Jessie Ware, Elizabeth Hurley, Lorraine Kelly, Sheridan Smith, MNEK and Jourdan Dunn.

Netflix’s Official “The Prom” Trailer Is All Glitter and Gay

Netflix's Official "The Prom" Trailer Is All Glitter and Gay


The time for Prom is approaching faster than actual Prom does your senior year of high school and we know this because the full trailer is finally here!

I’ve been feeling so conflicted about this because the Broadway show was SO so great and my feelings were a little hurt when Caitlin Kinnunen and Isabelle McCalla weren’t tapped to reprise their roles in the film version of their musical, and frankly I didn’t know if I could trust Ryan Murphy to not shift the focus to the adult characters instead of the teen lesbians, but I adore Ariana DeBose, and Jo Ellen Pellmen sparkles in this preview, and honestly if the balance in the movie is similar to the balance in the trailer, I think this is going to be a great movie. A glittery, glamorous, gay time full of fun and feelings. Plus with stars like Kerry Washington, Nicole Kidman, and Meryl Streep…it can’t be anything less than dazzling right?

I won’t lie, I went into this trailer with low expectations, but by the time Keegan-Michael Key said, “Okay, I admit, that got to me” I was feeling the exact same way. I got fully swept up in it and finally, finally allowed myself to get genuinely excited about this movie.

Valerie Anne

Just a TV-loving, Twitter-addicted nerd who loves reading, watching, and writing about stories. One part Kara Danvers, two parts Waverly Earp, a dash of Cosima and an extra helping of my own brand of weirdo.

Valerie has written 253 articles for us.