Meet Rachel Levine, one of the very few transgender public officials in AmericaThe Washington Post

Harrisburg, Pa – During today’s daily COVID-19 update for Pennsylvania, transgendered Secretary of Health Dr. Levine spoke about her interest in the needs of families with children, saying, “Now remember, I’m a pediatrician in my original training, and so this issue of children and teenagers is very, very important to me.”

Levine elaborated in depth about the affects of the international pandemic on families, and the disruption to the normally active lives of children and teenagers in Pennsylvania, as Governor Wolf has closed all schools indefinitely due to coronavirus spread.

Levine and Wolf have been appearing on live television and social media with daily Coronavirus updates.

But when Wolf and other officials deliver their daily briefing broadcast on Television, they do so in English with a sign language interpreter. Videos of the briefings are published on a government site and do not appear to have an option to be captioned in Spanish or any other language.

There are more than 500,000 people in the state who speak English less than “very well,” and about half of them speak Spanish, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. In total, 1.3 million people in Pennsylvania speak a language other than English at home.

Now, a coalition of Latinx organizations in Philadelphia wants the administration to make immediate improvements, including Spanish captions for the administration’s daily video news conferences and professional translation of more written materials.

Lyndsay Kensinger, a spokesperson for Gov. Tom Wolf, said, “the administration has been working to translate important information into multiple languages to accommodate our diverse populations.”

On Tuesday, Governor Wolf recognized the Transgender Day of Visibility, celebrating “all transgender Pennsylvanians.”

“Special thanks and recognition to Dr. Rachel Levine — a calm, wise, and dedicated leader during this COVID-19 pandemic. Pennsylvania is so lucky to have you as our Secretary of Health,” Governor Wolf wrote.

Kate Collins, Republican Committee chair in Chester County, commented about Levine writing, “A man who dresses as a woman is giving us medical advice 🙈.”

In response to the Cheater County republican, Cole Goodman, committee person of the Pa Democrat party wrote, “Kate Collins, you should really get to know Dr. Levine. Amazing doctor, and she’s a fabulous person.”

Another public figure has criticized Levine in the wake of a law passed in North Carolina mandating that people use the public bathroom that corresponds with the gender on their birth certificates. “Question: You’re in a public restroom and this person walks in. What do you do?” former congressman Allen West wrote last month on Twitter, attaching a photo of Levine and link to a blog post on his website about her.

Richard Levine had a full life: a wife, two children, a career at the top of his field. But there was a void inside of him — a feeling he learned to ignore decades before as a child and student at an all-boys school outside Boston.

Her transition from Richard to Rachel was slow, deliberate and filled with research. She started seeing a therapist about 15 years ago. About eight years ago she started growing out her hair, which is now long and curly, and publicly announced herself as a transgender woman about five years ago.

The former Richard Levine picked the name Rachel for no other reason that it seemed to fit; she kept her middle name and initials and her signature stayed basically the same.

“Moving from one gender to another, especially in your 50s, is a challenge,” Rachel Levine said. “But it was very rewarding.”

Levine said her children, who are now in college, were very accepting of her transition. She and her wife divorced three years ago, and Levine lives with two dogs.

Pa. Latinx groups slam Wolf administration for not providing daily coronavirus updates in SpanishThe Philadelphia Inquirer

Update: The Wolf administration added Spanish captions to a web stream of its daily coronavirus briefing Friday, one day after a Spotlight PA report raised concerns about the lack of equal access.

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