“I was thrilled,” Levine told the Washington Blade last week during a telephone interview as she discussed her reaction to Wolf’s decision to nominate her on Jan. 18. “I was very excited to serve the commonwealth.”
Levine as physician general would work directly with Pennsylvania’s secretary of health on what she described as “medical matters.” She would also become a Cabinet-level advisor for Wolf on health care policy if the state Senate confirms her nomination.
“We will work together on the all the different medical issues and health related issues, public-related issues that are part of the Department of Health and for the commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” said Levine.
Physician began career in mid-1980s
Levine has nearly three decades of experience in pediatrics and psychiatry.
The Patriot-News reported that Levine graduated from the Tulane University School of Medicine in 1983.
Levine completed her pediatrics residency at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York in 1987. Her fellowship in adolescent medicine at the same facility ended the following year.
She was on staff at Mount Sinai Hospital until 1993 when she moved to Pennsylvania. Levine has worked at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center since 1996.
She began the hospital’s adolescent medicine program. Levine also started what she described to the Blade as a “multidisciplinary eating disorder program” for people with anorexia, bulimia and other illnesses.
“My medical interests are where medical issues relate to mental health and behavioral issues,” Levine told the Blade. “Your mind and body are connected. Where that interface is, where that intersection is is my particular interest and expertise.”
Wolf: Levine is ‘well-respected’
Levine transitioned from a man into a woman five years ago.
She told the Blade that administrators at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center were “exceptionally supportive” of her transition. Levine further noted the hospital’s anti-discrimination policy includes sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.
“I was welcomed at Penn State-Hershey in terms of my transition,” she said.
Levine is also a board member of Equality Pennsylvania, a statewide LGBT advocacy group, where she said she “brought my expertise on health care and mental health issues as they relate to LGBT individuals.”
Levine told the Blade she would support and “personally advocate” for a bill that would ban anti-LGBT discrimination in Pennsylvania. She nevertheless stressed that Wolf nominated her to become the state’s next physician general because of her “accomplishments and my expertise” and not because of her gender identity and expression.
“I was chosen for this position because of this expertise,” said Levine.
“Being a transgender woman in a position like that of authority to serve is very rewarding and gratifying,” she added.
Wolf in a statement praised Levine’s decades worth of experience.
“Dr. Rachel Levine is well-respected in the fields of pediatrics, psychiatry and behavioral health where she has practiced for close to three decades,” he said, according to the Patriot-News. “She has been a leading voice in efforts to treat teens with medical and psychological problems, as well as adults and children with eating disorders. It is important to me that we place equal emphasis on behavioral and physical health issues.”
Equality Pennsylvania also congratulated Levine over her nomination.
— EqualityPennsylvania (@EqualityPA) January 17, 2015