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Biden’s highest-ranking trans official is learning the limits of representation

Started by Jessica_Rose, March 14, 2024, 09:45:15 AM

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Biden's highest-ranking trans official is learning the limits of representation

Story by Nathan Kohrman (14 March 2024)

In October, Admiral Rachel Levine gave the keynote address at the national convention for the Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, or "PFLAG," as it's been known since its founding in the 1970s. Levine is the first trans woman to ever serve in a Senate-confirmed office, and the most prominent trans official in any branch of government—a position that forces her to balance the responsibilities of being a bureaucrat with the burdens of being a symbol.

The PFLAG audience had gathered at a hotel in Arlington Virginia amid an ugly backlash against trans Americans, and during the Q&A, Levine was asked for tips on keeping ones cool. "My clinical training as a pediatrician has always been very helpful," she said. "You have to take whatever emotions come up and put them aside, to compartmentalize them, and then treat the patient and the family in front of you."

On my last day with Levine, as we crossed a bridge over the Mississippi River, I asked her if she ever got frustrated with incrementalism. "Sure," she replied. "It's a big country."

"Sometimes you can develop programs that will help a bunch of people," she continued, "That's the goal of public service and public health—but it doesn't change the importance of helping one person. I think that is one of the most valuable things you can do."
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