At the time, she said, there were “some attacks” on them, but “they weren’t that brutal.” But after she was appointed Minister of Health and took a front-and-center position in response to the pandemic, hatred escalated.
“She told me she was at a gas station early on in Covid and a guy in a pickup was driving around her yelling about medical tyranny,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality.
At first she tried to ignore it. But she drew the line on the dunk tank episode and used her daily press conference push back.
“While these people may think they are just expressing their displeasure with me,” she said, they hurt “thousands of L.G.B.T.Q. Pennsylvanians.”
As Deputy Minister of Health, Dr. Levine has a broad portfolio. The job is what you make of it and can be either the “most influential public health voice” in the country or the “window dressing” depending on the resident’s wishes, said Dr. Levine’s predecessor, Adm. Brett P. Giroir.
Dr. Levine said she intends to prioritize mental health, health equity and the opioid epidemic, an issue she has also addressed in Pennsylvania. Her “most urgent” priority, she said, is fighting the coronavirus, and specifically addressing hesitation about vaccines.
But she also intends to stand up for transgender youth and work to raise awareness, as she did during her visit to Belmont Hill. Her former math teacher, Michael Sherman, who has taught there for 48 years, said Dr. Levine was invited because the school wanted to emphasize diversity and she was the only known graduate.