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LGBT voters approve of Obama’s performance: poll

But numbers slip on president’s handling of gay issues

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President Obama received high marks in an unscientific straw poll of LGBT voters the Blade conducted during Capital Pride. (Photo by Pete Souza, courtesy of White House)

Nearly 77 percent of LGBT participants in an unscientific straw poll the Washington Blade conducted during last month’s Capital Pride street festival said they approve of the job President Barack Obama is doing as president.

The president’s 76.9 percent approval rating among the LGBT respondents — most of whom said they live in D.C., Maryland or Virginia — far exceeds the 46 percent approval rating he received from American voters nationwide who participated in a Gallup Poll in June.

Just over 17 percent of the 519 LGBT people who responded to the Blade straw poll said they disapprove of the president’s job performance, and about 6 percent said they had no opinion.

In a separate question on the Blade straw poll, about 51 percent of LGBT respondents said they approve of the job Obama is doing in “addressing LGBT-related issues.” On the matter, about 36 percent said they disapprove and about 13 percent said they had no opinion.

A third question asking respondents to grade Obama “on his handling of LGBT issues” showed a range of opinions. About 8 percent of the straw poll’s LGBT respondents gave Obama an “A” grade, whereas 37.7 percent gave him a “B,” 37.5 percent gave him a “C,” about 13 percent gave him a “D,” and about 2 percent gave him an “F.” The remaining respondents had no opinion.

The Blade straw poll follows a year in which the president has faced sharp criticism from some LGBT activists who say he hasn’t been forceful enough in pushing for LGBT-related bills in Congress, including legislation to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

At the time of his election in November 2008, most LGBT activists agreed that Obama was about to become the nation’s most LGBT-supportive president. As a candidate, Obama said he supported civil unions rather than same-sex marriage, but expressed strong support on virtually all other LGBT issues.

Among other things, he called for repealing “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and the Defense of Marriage Act, a measure passed by Congress in 1996 that federally defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The act bars married same-sex couples joined in states that allow same-sex marriage from receiving any of the federal rights or benefits of marriage that wedded opposite-sex couples receive.

The president has continued to speak in favor of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and DOMA, has appointed a record number of high-level openly LGBT officials throughout the federal government, and has hosted LGBT events at the White House.

His LGBT supporters say the criticism is unfair. They note that the Obama administration has taken extensive action on the LGBT front and should not be held responsible for inaction by Congress, which has stalled in the approval of most LGBT-related bills.

That the Blade straw poll shows the president with an overall 76.9 percent approval rating among LGBT respondents suggests large numbers of LGBT people continue to have confidence in Obama while having concerns about his handling of at least some LGBT-related issues.

“I think the overall view is that we still like him,” said Peter Rosenstein, a gay Democratic activist.

“But I think it shows there’s a feeling it would be very nice if he spoke out on our issues in the same forceful way he did about health care to the Congress,” Rosenstein said. “There’s a frustration that he is not speaking out forcefully enough on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and on [the Employment Non-Discrimination Act] and our community wants to see more action.”

Andrew Tobias, who’s gay and serves as treasurer of the Democratic National Committee, said he understands the frustration of some of the Blade poll respondents who are disappointed that more LGBT-related advances have not materialized.

“But we also need to recognize that in less than two years, with so much else on his plate, Obama’s made a terrific start, and a night-and-day difference over where we were or where we would have been with [Republican presidential candidate John] McCain.”

Tobias said the Blade poll results show an overwhelming majority gave the president a favorable rating and a passing grade.

“If you had asked people to rate the Republicans, virtually 100 percent would have flunked them outright,” he said.

But Clarke Cooper, executive director of the gay partisan group Log Cabin Republicans, said the Blade poll indicates that LGBT voters are questioning the president’s actions on LGBT issues, especially the administration’s decision to oppose in court a Log Cabin lawsuit seeking to overturn the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law.

“It is presumptuous of President Obama and the DNC to assume LGBT voters will march in blind lock-step support of the president,” Cooper said.

Organizers of the Capital Pride festival, the D.C. area’s annual LGBT Pride event, estimated about 200,000 people turned out for the event, which was held June 13 along Pennsylvania Avenue near the U.S. Capitol.

The Blade staff invited festival attendees to participate in the straw poll as they walked past the Blade’s booth. Participation included filling out a one-page, confidential questionnaire and placing the completed questionnaire in a closed ballot box.

Of the 559 respondents, about 59 percent identified as gay, about 26 percent as lesbian, about 5 percent as bisexual, about 1 percent as transgender, and about 3 percent as queer. The remaining 6 percent identified as straight.

The Blade isolated the respondents identifying as straight from its calculation of the results so that a more accurate presentation of the straw poll’s LGBT sample could be obtained.

A separate calculation of the poll’s 36 straight respondents, showed that about 72 percent approved of the job the president is doing, while about 22 percent disapproved and about 5 percent had no opinion. On the question of how the president was doing on LGBT-related issues, about 34 percent of the straight respondents expressed approval, while some 25 percent expressed disapproval and 40 percent had no opinion.

Among all straw poll respondents, about 82 percent identified themselves as white, about 10 percent as black, 5 percent as Latino, about 3 percent as Asian/Pacific Islander, and another 3 percent as other.

Similar to nationwide public opinion polls such as the Gallup Poll, black respondents to the Blade poll gave a higher approval rating to the president than white respondents.

On the Blade poll’s question on whether respondents approve or disapprove of how Obama is doing as president, nearly 91 percent of the black LGBT respondents said they approve compared to less than 2 percent who said they disapprove. The remaining 7 percent of black LGBT respondents had no opinion.

On the same question, more than 77 percent of white LGBT respondents said they approve of the job the president is doing compared to about 18 percent who said they disapproved, while about 4 percent had no opinion.

The difference between black and white respondents narrowed on the question of how the president is doing on LGBT-related issues. About 60 percent of black respondents said they approved of the president’s handling of LGBT issues, while about 19 percent said they disapproved and some 21 percent had no opinion on the question.

Among white respondents, nearly 50 percent said they approved of President Obama’s handling of LGBT-related issues and about 35 percent said they disapproved, while about 15 percent said they had no opinion.

Gallup Poll results from a June survey shows 46 percent of American voters approve of Obama’s job performance. A Rasmussen Poll also conducted in July shows that just 27 percent of the respondents “strongly approve” of the overall job the president is doing compared to 43 percent who “strongly disapprove.”

High unemployment rates and the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster were among the issues that the Gallup and Rasmussen polls indicated were factors in respondents saying they disapprove of the job the president is doing.

Dan Pinello, who’s gay and a political science professor at the City University of New York, said the overall support the Blade straw poll found for Obama’s job performance is consistent with national exit polls of LGBT voters conducted by the news media for presidential elections.

He noted that the exit polls have consistently shown that LGBT voters support the Democratic presidential candidate at about 75 percent.

Pinello said he was unsurprised over the Blade poll finding that the Obama approval rating drops to about 50 percent on the question of how the president is handling LGBT-related issues. He noted that since the sample consists of self-identified LGBT people at a Pride event in Washington, the respondents most likely are “skewed” toward more politically aware people.

“But in the minds of many in our community, Barack Obama has not lived up to his campaign promises,” Pinello said. “Plus, Barack Obama has had an ambitious political agenda, much of which he’s accomplished. He got the health reform bill through Congress. He got the stimulus package passed. He got financial reform passed. Lots of major, consequential, historic legislation has passed in the last year and a half. And I think a lot of gay people, especially in the nation’s capital who are very attuned to these issues, are looking at that and saying, ‘Why not us?’”

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Dan

    July 22, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    While this is a good exploratory effort, I think there is a real need for scientific poll results on these issues. Participants in a Capital Pride street festival may differ from LGBT people as a whole.

  2. Doctor Whom

    July 23, 2010 at 9:28 am

    1. “Unscientific” is putting it mildly. The poll involves multiple layers of self-selection.

    2. Obama has won high praise for his ability to get his agenda through Congress — except of course on our issues. “Why not us?” is a perfectly fair question.

    3. Saying that Obama is better than McCain would have been is like the line from Animal Farm, “Surely, comrades, surely there is no one among you who wants to see Jones come back?”

  3. David

    July 23, 2010 at 10:24 am

    What a joke-I’m sure I could run a poll giving the exact opposite stats

  4. Brian

    July 24, 2010 at 12:55 am

    Please take that same unscientific poll out here in CA where he was used in pro-prop 8 ads. If gays support this man then we get what we deserve. At this point, he has no base. Hopefully he’s smart enough to step aside after November to let a real democrat run for 2012. No one president has ever wasted so much opportunity, truly tragic.

  5. Steve

    July 24, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    Regardless of the results of the straw poll, it is a fact that President Obama has already done more to advance LGBT rights than all the previous 43 presidents have done combined! And he is not even halfway through his first term. While I understand the frustration and have felt the same way in certain areas, comparing LGBT rights to national health care reform that was intended to fix a system that was disintegrating is naive. The President has the right to set his priorities. Our day will come, and we will stand a better chance of success than at any time in our history.

  6. Shawn

    July 25, 2010 at 10:20 am

    It’s simple. (And all those who say this is an unfair litmus test can kiss my ass.) If DADT has not been overturned, or if at the very least Obama has not put a stop to the discharges by the end of his first term, he will not get my vote again. End of story.

  7. Tim

    July 26, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    Obama has failed the LGBT community plain and simple. Far from being a fierce advocate, his administration has actually stood up for continued discrimination by defending DOMA and DADT in court. Obama has done nothing to pass ENDA, the Domestic Partnership Benefits & Obligations Act, the Student Non-Discrimination Act, the Uniting American Familes Act, etc., etc., etc. The only thing he has accomplished has been the passage of the Mathew Shepard Hate Crimes Act, and he really didn’t do anything to get it passed, it was done by supportive Democrats in Congress who attached it to a defense authorization bill. Obama opposes marriage equality, he didn’t appoint any gay or lesbian cabinet members, has hasn’t appointed any openly gay judges, he is basically worthless. If he and the Dems in Congress blow us off again this year and don’t bother to pass any of our legislation they should expect to lose in November. As for Obama himself, I really don’t see myself voting for him in 2012, because he has been a big zero on LGBT issues.

    • Matthew Deise

      July 27, 2010 at 3:47 pm

      Amen.

  8. Ed Gould

    July 27, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    I am puzzled by Obama’s defense of the lawsuit out in CA. *IF* he was really against DADT he would have not gone to trial or at least put on a sham for the Pentagon side.
    I realize that he “has” to defend it in court but it really should have been an almost no-show trial.

    Last year (before he election) I was warning people on Obama’s stance on any gay issue. It was clear that he either sides against us or he wants us to think he is for the DADT and DOMA and the other issues. It was clear that when the radical preacher spoke at his church Obama did not get up and leave but he sat there listening to the anti gay rhetoric the preacher spewed out obama was interested more in getting the “other vote” than he was in getting the gay vote, yet he keeps saying how much he has done for us. Other than a few scraps we have not gotten anything out of him.
    And I do mean scraps.

    Letting the Pentagon send out the “survey” on gay people in the service was the final nail in the coffin. We need to pressure the congress to do what Obama
    is afraid top do and end DADT and get rid of DOMA for start.

    I hate to say this but Obama is from IL and he knows you can double talk and promise the world and as soon as he was elected he has perfect 20/20 forgetfulness.

    He has until the end of this year to full fill the promises he made or its time to find a replacement, no more promises President Obama, put up or shut up.

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Utah

VIDEO: Utah deal promoted as national model for LGBTQ rights, religious liberty

Data finds state has 2nd highest support for LGBTQ rights

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(Screen capture via YouTube)

A new video from the premier LGBTQ group in Utah, challenging the idea LGBTQ rights must be at odds with religious liberty, promotes an agreement reached in the state as a potential model to achieve a long sought-after update to civil rights law at the federal level.

The video, published Friday by Equality Utah, focuses on a 2015 agreement in Utah between the supporters of LGBTQ rights and the Mormon Church to enact a compromise acceptable to both sides. The agreement by those two sides led to an LGBTQ civil rights law in the state, which has Republican control of the state legislature and the governor’s mansion.

Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah, says in the video dialogue is key to achieving meaningful success, whether its among the people of Utah, a state legislature or lawmakers in Congress.

“When you are working with LGBT rights in a state like Utah, and you want to advance legal equality, you can’t do it without working with Republicans, with conservative, with people of faith,” Williams says.

Williams, speaking with the Washington Blade over a Zoom call, said the main audience for the video is people on “the center right and the center left” willing to listen to other side when it comes to LGBTQ rights and religious liberty.

“People that have the courage to reach out to each other, and sit down across from each other and say, ‘Hey look, let’s hammer this out,” Williams said. “That’s who my audience is.”

Not only did Utah enact non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people, but the state under a Republican governor administratively banned widely discredited conversion therapy for youth. When lawmakers proposed legislation that would ban transgender youth from competing in school sports, the proposal was scuttled when Gov. Spencer Cox (whom Williams called a “super Mormon”) said he’d veto it after it came to his desk.

Marina Gomberg, a former board for Equality Utah, is another voice in the video seeking dispel the narrative religious liberty and LGBTQ rights are in conflict.

“in order to protect LGBTQ people, we don have to deny religious liberty, and in order to provide protections for religious liberties, we don’t have to deny LGBTQ people,” Gomberg says. “The idea that we do is a fallacy that Utah has dismantled.”

In July, new polling demonstrated the surprisingly the Utah, despite being a conservative state, has the second highest percentage of state population in support for non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people. The data Public Religion Research Institute from 77 percent of Utah residents support LGBTQ people, which is just behind New Hampshire at 81 percent.

Tyler Deaton, senior adviser for the pro-LGBTQ American Unity Fund, said the Utah agreement demonstrates the possibility of reaching an agreement at the federal level once “second order” issues are put into perspective.

“The first order question has to be how are we winning the culture,” Deaton said. “Do people even want to pass the bill? And if they do, you then figure out the details.”

The American Unity Fund has helped promote as a path forward for LGBTQ non-discrimination at the federal level the Fairness for For All Act, legislation seeking to reach a middle ground on LGBTQ rights and religious freedom. Polling earlier this year found 57 percent of the American public back a bipartisan solution in Congress to advance LGBTQ civil rights.

Supporters of the Equality Act, the more established vehicle for LGBTQ rights before Congress, say the Fairness for For All Act would give too many carve-out for LGBTQ rights in the name of religious freedom. The Equality Act, however, is all but dead in Congress and has shown no movement in the U.S. Senate.

Skeptics of the Utah law would point out the law doesn’t address public accommodations, one of the more challenging aspects in the fight for LGBTQ rights and one or remaining gaps in civil rights protections for LGBTQ people in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year in Bostock v. Clayton County. As a result, it’s perfectly legal in Utah for a business owner to discriminate against LGBTQ coming as patrons.

Williams, however, shrugged off the idea the lack of public accommodations protections in Utah make the agreement in the state makes it any less of a model, making the case the spirit behind the deal is what matters.

“I think copying and pasting Utah’s law doesn’t work for lots of reasons,” Wililams said. “What’s most important is a model of collaboration because when you are sitting around the table with each other — Democrats and Republicans, LGBTQ people and people of faith — that’s when the transformation happens. That is when the mutual respect is really forged.”

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Venezuelan man with AIDS dies in ICE custody

Pablo Sánchez Gotopo passed away at Miss. hospital on Oct. 1

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Pablo Sanchez Gotopo, who was living with HIV/AIDS, died in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody in Mississippi on Oct. 1, 2021. (Courtesy photo)

A Venezuelan man with AIDS died in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody on Oct. 1.

An ICE press release notes Pablo Sánchez Gotopo, 40, died at Merit Health River Oaks in Flowood, Miss., which is a suburb of Jackson, the state capital. The press release notes the “preliminary cause of death was from complications with acute respiratory failure, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), pneumonia, acute kidney failure, anemia and COVID-19.”

ICE said U.S. Border Patrol took Sánchez into custody near Del Rio, Texas, on May 17. He arrived at the Adams County Detention Center in Natchez, Miss., four days later.

“Upon arrival to an ICE facility, all detainees are medically screened and administered a COVID-19 test by ICE Health Service Corps (IHSC) personnel,” said ICE in its press release. “Sánchez’s test results came back negative.”

The press release notes Sánchez on July 28 received another COVID-19 test after he “began showing symptoms of COVID-19.” ICE said he tested negative, but Adams County Detention Center personnel transferred him to a Natchez hospital “for additional advanced medical care.”

ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations staff in its New Orleans Field Office, according to the press release, “coordinated with hospital staff to arrange family visitation” after Sánchez’s “health condition deteriorated.” Sánchez was transferred to Merit Health River Oaks on Sept. 25.

“ICE is firmly committed to the health and welfare of all those in its custody and is undertaking a comprehensive agency-wide review of this incident, as it does in all such cases,” says the press release.

Venezuela’s political and economic crises have prompted more than 10,000 people with HIV to leave the country, according to the New York-based Aid for AIDS International.

Activists and health care service providers in Venezuela with whom the Washington Blade has spoken in recent years have said people with HIV/AIDS in the country have died because of a lack of antiretroviral drugs. Andrés Cardona, director of Fundación Ancla, a group in the Colombian city of Medellín that works with migrants and other vulnerable groups, told the Blade last month that many Venezuelans with HIV would have died if they hadn’t come to Colombia.

The Blade has not been able to verify a Venezuelan activist’s claim that Sánchez was gay. It is also not known why Sánchez decided to leave Venezuela and travel to the U.S.

ICE detainee with HIV described Miss. detention center as ‘not safe’

Activists and members of Congress continue to demand ICE release people with HIV/AIDS in their custody amid reports they don’t have adequate access to medications and other necessary medical treatment.

Two trans women with HIV—Victoria Arellano from Mexico and Roxsana Hernández from Honduras—died in ICE custody in 2007 and 2018 respectively. Johana “Joa” Medina Leon, a trans woman with HIV who fled El Salvador, died in 2019, three days after ICE released her from a privately-run detention center.

The Blade in July 2020 interviewed a person with HIV who was in ICE custody at the Adams County Detention Center. The detainee said there was no social distancing at the privately-run facility and personnel were not doing enough to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.

“It’s not safe,” they told the Blade.

The entrance to the Adams County Detention Center in Natchez, Miss. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Elisabeth Grant-Gibson, a Natchez resident who supports ICE detainees and their families, on Wednesday told the Blade that she was able to visit the Adams County Detention Center and other ICE facilities in the Miss Lou Region of Mississippi and Louisiana from November 2019 until the suspension of in-person visitation in March 2020 because of the pandemic.

“Medical neglect and refusal of medical care has always been an issue in the detention center at Adams County,” said Grant-Gibson. “After the facilities were closed to public visitation, those problems increased.”

Grant-Gibson told the Blade she “worked with a number of families and received phone calls from a number of detainees, and I was told again and again that detainees were being refused the opportunity to visit the infirmary.”

“When they did visit the infirmary, they were given virtually no treatment for the issues they were presenting with,” said Grant-Gibson.

ICE in its press release that announced Sánchez’s death said fatalities among its detainees, “statistically, are exceedingly rare and occur at a fraction of the national average for the U.S. detained population.” ICE also noted it spends more than $315 million a year “on the spectrum of healthcare services provided to detainees.”

“ICE’s Health Service Corps (IHSC) ensures the provision of necessary medical care services as required by ICE Performance-Based National Detention Standards and based on the medical needs of the detainee,” notes the ICE press release. “Comprehensive medical care is provided from the moment detainees arrive and throughout the entirety of their stay. All ICE detainees receive medical, dental, and mental health intake screening within 12 hours of arriving at each detention facility, a full health assessment within 14 days of entering ICE custody or arrival at a facility, and access to daily sick call and 24-hour emergency care.”

An ICE spokesperson on Wednesday pointed the Blade to its Performance-Based Detention Standards from 2011, which includes policies for the treatment of detainees with HIV/AIDS.

A detainee “may request HIV testing at any time during detention” and ICE detention centers “shall develop a written plan to ensure the highest degree of confidentiality regarding HIV status and medical condition.” The policy also states that “staff training must emphasize the need for confidentiality, and procedures must be in place to limit access to health records to only authorized individuals and only when necessary.”

“The accurate diagnosis and medical management of HIV infection among detainees shall be promoted,” reads the policy. “An HIV diagnosis may be made only by a licensed health care provider, based on a medical history, current clinical evaluation of signs and symptoms and laboratory studies.”

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Rachel Levine on becoming four-star admiral: ‘It comes from my desire to serve’

Trans official sworn-in to U.S. Public Health Service

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For Rachel Levine, the appointment to her new role as a four-star admiral complementing her existing duties as assistant secretary for health is another way for the first openly transgender Senate-confirmed presidential appointee to serve.

“I think that this just really comes from my desire to serve in all capacities,” Levine said in an interview Tuesday with the Washington Blade. “To serve the first day in my field of academic medicine and pediatrics, but then in Pennsylvania and now in the federal government, and it furthers my ability to do that.”

Levine, 63, also recognized the importance of the appointment as a transgender person within the U.S. Public Health Service, for which she was ceremonially sworn in on Tuesday

“I think for the LGBTQ+ community, it is a further sign of progress and our president’s commitment to equity, to inclusion and diversity,” Levine said. “So I think that it is a very important milestone, and I’m pleased to serve.”

As part of her duties, Levine will lead an estimated 6,000 public health service officers serving vulnerable populations, including deployments inside and outside the country for communities beleaguered with the coronavirus, according to the Department of Health & Human Services. The role involves working closely with U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murphy, whom Levine called her “friend and colleague.”

The U.S. Public Health Service, Levine said, has deployed “many, many times,” including its greatest number ever of deployments to vulnerable populations during the coronavirus pandemic. Among the places the service has deployed, Levine said, was in her home state of Pennsylvania, where she recently served as secretary of health.

Not only is Levine the first openly transgender person to serve in the uniformed health service as a four-star general, but she’s also the first woman to serve in that capacity.

“We have 6,000 dedicated committed public servants really all focused on our nation’s health, and they serve in details to the CDC and the FDA and the NIH, but also clinically with the Indian Health Service, and the federal prison system,” Levine said. “They’re also detailed and deployed throughout the country, and they deployed like never before for COVID-19 as well as the border, as well as dealing with floods and hurricanes and tornadoes.”

Although the Public Health Service is primarily focused on addressing public health disasters within the United States, Levine said it has a record of deployments overseas, including years ago when it was deployed to Africa under the threat of Ebola.

Secretary of Health & Human Services Xavier Becerra had high praise for Levine in a statement upon news of taking on a leadership position in the service.

“This is a proud moment for us at HHS,” Becerra said. “Adm. 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.”

Levine, however, was careful to draw a distinction between her appointment within the Public Health Service and being a service member within the U.S. armed forces.

“It is not a military branch, it’s not the armed forces: It’s a uniformed force, so it’s different,” Levine said. “For example, the Army, the Navy, our military, there are two other uniformed branches, and that is ours, the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and NOAA.”

The new role, Levine said, would complement her duties as assistant secretary for health. Although not only secretaries of health have been commissioned to take the uniform, Levine said she wanted to undertake that as part of her role in the Biden administration.

The two appointments were not simultaneous, Levine said, because of a general process she undertook, which was completed just this week.

It hasn’t been an easy road for Levine. During her Senate confirmation process, when she was hounded by anti-transgender attacks in conservative media and rude, invasive questioning by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on her gender identity.

Levine, however, said she hasn’t encountered any hostility regarding her new role (as of now) and shrugged off any potential attacks in the future and said the move is about her career “to serve and to help people.”

“I’ve continued that for our nation as the assistant secretary for health and this is just a further demonstration of my commitment to service,” Levine said. “I don’t know what others will say, but that’s the genesis of my wanting to serve in the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, and to place on the uniform.”

Levine’s new appointment comes shortly after a group of Democratic senators led by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) sent her a letter dated Sept. 30 calling on her and Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, assistant secretary for mental health and substance use, to issue new guidance for hospital or residential care on mental health needs of transgender people.

Asked about the letter, Levine said mental health issues are under the authority of Delphin-Rittmon and the two “will work together and we will respond.”

Specifically, the senators in the letter call on the Behavioral Health Coordinating Council, or BHCC, and experts in the field of adolescent trans care to offer guidance on best practices for inpatient mental health care among these youth.

Asked what the response will look like, Levine said, “We’re going to work on that.”

“We will be looking at what they’re asking for and the requirements, and we’ll talk with them and the stakeholders and we’ll look to issue appropriate guidance,” Levine said.

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