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Gay DC psychiatrist named head of APA

Levin serves as interim director of Department of Health

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Saul Levin, gay news, Washington Blade

Dr. Saul Levin was named CEO and medical director of the American Psychiatric Association. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Dr. Saul Levin, who last year became the first openly gay head of the D.C. Department of Health, was named on May 15 as the new chief executive officer and medical director of the American Psychiatric Association.

An APA spokesperson said Levin, a psychiatrist who has specialized in substance abuse treatment, becomes the first known out gay person to head the APA, which was founded in 1844 and represents more than 33,000 psychiatric physicians in the U.S. and abroad.

The APA serves as a “national medical specialty society whose physician members specialize in diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and research of mental illnesses including substance use disorders,” according to a statement on the organization’s website.

“I have known Saul for over 20 years,” said Dr. James H. Scully Jr., the current APA CEO and Medical Director who is retiring in the fall, when Levin will take over his duties following a transition period set to begin in mid-July.

“He brings extraordinary intelligence, vision and great energy to the challenges ahead for our profession,” Scully said in a statement. “I look forward to working together with him as we transition to new leadership.”

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, who appointed Levin as interim director of the DOH last July, issued a statement on May 15 congratulating Levin on his new appointment.

“While this is a great loss for the District government, it is a great gain for the American Psychiatric Association,” Gray said. “Dr. Levin has done an exemplary job leading DOH in this interim period, and I wish him the best in his future endeavors and thank him for his good work for us.”

The APA has played a key role in the advancement of LGBT rights since the early 1970s when, following years of advocacy by gay activists, the organization removed homosexuality from its longstanding classification as a mental illness in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders.

Last December, the APA removed Gender Identity Disorder (GID) from its latest updated edition of the DSM and replaced it with a condition known as Gender Dysphoria.

Transgender rights advocates have said the removal of GID from the APA’s DSM is comparable to the APA’s removal of homosexuality from its classification as a mental disorder in 1973.

Levin is scheduled to remain in his DOH post until July 12, when he will join the Arlington, Va., based APA as CEO-designate, according to an APA statement. He will work closely with Scully until Scully retires in the fall, “at which point Dr. Levin will transition to his role as CEO and Medical Director of APA,” the statement says.

The APA statement says Levin has had a “long history” of working on APA committees and projects beginning in 1987, when he first became a member of the organization. Among other duties, Levin has served on the APA’s Political Action Committee Board, its Scientific and Program Committee and as a consultant to its Finance and Budget Committee.

A native of South Africa, Levin received his medical degree at a leading medical school in Johannesburg before completing his residency in psychiatry at the University of California’s Davis Medical Center.

Levin joined the staff of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where he later became coordinator of a program within the department’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Following that position he returned to school, receiving a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in 1994.

After that, Levin started a heath care consulting company for which he served as president for the next 10 years.

He next served as president and CEO of a U.S.-based educational trust that provided scholarships to South African black youth before becoming vice president of the American Medical Association for Science, Medicine, and Public Health.

After joining the staff at the D.C. Department of Health, Levin, among other things, served as Senior Deputy Director of the department’s Addiction and Recovery Administration.

Levin was in San Francisco this week attending the APA’s annual national conference and couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

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District of Columbia

One trans woman shot, another had legs run over by car in Northeast

November incidents occurred near D.C.-P.G. County border

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D.C. police say they are investigating a Nov. 1 incident in which a transgender woman was knocked down on a street by a man who backed his car into her and then drove over both of her legs after he was shot in the arm in an unrelated dispute with another person outside an apartment building at 5920 Foote St., N.E.

The woman, Latisa Moorman, said she spent a month at Washington Hospital Center recovering from her injuries before being transferred to a rehabilitation center for continued treatment of her injured legs.

Police are also investigating a second incident in which another transgender woman was shot in her “pelvic region” by an unidentified male suspect causing a nonfatal injury on Nov. 29 inside the same apartment building. The shooting followed an “argument about a sexual act that was performed and payment of money,” according to a D.C. police report.

The victim of the second incident couldn’t immediately be reached to determine if she would like her name to be disclosed.

Moorman, the victim in the first incident, told the Washington Blade a police detective informed her that the man who hit her with his car and drove away has been arrested. She said the detective gave her the name of the arrested man. But the man’s name could not be found in court records and police have not responded to a Blade request to confirm the arrest.

A police report says police were investigating what they listed as separate cases of the shooting that injured the man who drove over Moorman’s legs as well as the incident in which the man who was shot hit Moorman with his car and drove away.

“Both cases remain under investigation and detectives are actively following up on leads, collecting evidence, and interviewing potential witnesses,” D.C. police spokesperson Paris Lewbel told the Blade in an email. “Due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, we cannot discuss specific investigative steps that have been taken by detectives,” Lewbel said.

The case of the Nov. 29 shooting of the trans woman inside 5920 Foote St., N.E. and the incident in which Moorman was hit by the car outside that same building took place in a location that trans and LGBTQ activists say is known as an area where female trans sex workers as well as trans women who are not engaged in sex work congregate along Eastern Avenue and nearby side streets.

The Foote Street apartment building where the two incidents took place is located at the intersection of Foote Street, 60th Street, and Eastern Avenue.

Less than a mile away one block off the Prince George’s County side of Eastern Avenue transgender woman Ashanti Carmon, 27, was shot to death on March 30, 2019. That case remains unsolved, with no arrest made. About 100 people led by transgender activist Earline Budd held a candlelight vigil one month later in honor of Carmon at the site of where the shooting took place.

Gay D.C. Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Anthony Lorenzo Green, whose district is located near the Eastern Avenue area where trans women hang out, expressed concern that D.C. officials are not adequately addressing the issues related to why trans women are engaging in sex work in that area.

“The angle we come from is the city needs to provide services for Black trans women along this corridor as opposed to constantly trying to arrest them and hoping that will keep them away from Eastern Avenue or away from where they work out of desperation, out of necessity,” Green told the Blade.

“But that has never worked. And we tell them that over and over,” Green said. “These ladies have not been given an opportunity to advance in this city. They’ve been forced to the edges of this city,” he said, adding that the D.C. government “should be bringing social services to that corridor.”

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Maryland

Bomb threat shuts down Takoma Park holiday drag show

MotorKat evacuated when Tara Hoot was performing

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Tara Hoot was performing at MotorKat in Takoma Park, Md., on Dec. 9, 2023, when a bomb threat forced the business' evacuation. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Police cordoned off a popular strip in Takoma Park on Saturday after a bomb threat shut down businesses, including a holiday performance by drag artist Tara Hoot.

MotorKat General Manager Mike Rothman told the Washington Blade that Takoma Park police notified them of a bomb threat to their business around noon.

Tara Hoot was delivering a holiday brunch performance at the MotorKat when the evacuation order came in.

Rothman said they were notified “five minutes into her final performance.” Tara Hoot herself told the audience to leave for their safety.

Police proceeded to tape off the area and evacuated all businesses between Eastern and South Carroll Avenues, including TakomaBevCo, which is co-owned by MotorKat Wine Director Seth Cook.

Cook told the Blade that police brought in “bomb-sniffing dogs” to clear the area before allowing businesses to reopen around 2 p.m.

“The timing is unfortunate as this is one of the busiest weekends before the holidays,” Cook said.

Rothman was also disappointed by the lost revenue due to what ultimately was a false threat, but he was firm that the Takoma Park LGBTQ community is resilient and would continue to thrive despite this setback.

“Takoma Park is a pretty proud and resilient community,” he said. “I don’t expect people to lay down and be scared by this.”

MotorKat and TakomaBevCo reopened for business around 3 p.m.

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Local

Comings & Goings

Jimmy Alexander joins WTOP News as a feature reporter

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Jimmy Alexander (Photo courtesy of Jimmy Alexander)

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations, and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected]

Congratulations to Jimmy Alexander who has been hired at WTOP News as a feature reporter. Over the last four years Alexander has been covering stories as varied as the Jan. 6 insurrection to the 17th Street High Heel Race. He has been working as a co-host on the Jack Diamond Morning show on Cumulus Media, Manning Media. On his acceptance of the new position Alexander said, “I’m thrilled that at WTOP News, I will be able to focus on events and people that bring hope to your heart and a smile to your face.”

Alexander is a versatile multimedia broadcaster with more than two decades of experience covering both major news events in Washington D.C., and important human-interest stories outside the Beltway. He is an engaging interviewer with a track record of having compelling conversations with the biggest names in government and show business, from presidents to Paul McCartney. Prior to this he worked as a freelance feature reporter with WDCW50-DC News Now. He is also with Writer-20, Twenty Country Countdown, United Stations Radio Networks. There he developed a concept for a countdown show featuring country music’s weekly top songs on-air and online and prepared weekly scripts for a three-hour show. 

Alexander conducted the only Jan. 6, 2021 interview with “The QAnon Shaman” Jacob Chansley. Since 2016, he has served by request of the D.C. mayor as official host of the 17th Street High Heel Race, the city’s second largest LGBTQ event of the year. He is featured in the documentary “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work,” and is a frequent guest on CNN’s Morning Show “New Day.” He covered White House visits by Queen Elizabeth, the Pope, and the yearly Easter Egg Roll. He also won $10,000 on the game show “Pyramid.” 

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