Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine condemned the recent barrage of transphobic comments and attacks directed against her during a daily coronavirus briefing on Tuesday.
This response comes just one week after a now-deleted Facebook post shared by the Bloomberg Fair Associaton called a man in drag at a charity event “Dr. Levine.”
Levine opened the briefing by saying that she felt obligated to respond to the transphobic harassment she has received as a result of being in the public eye due to COVID-19, noting that this anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment goes well beyond just herself.
“While these individuals may think they are only expressing their displeasure with me, they are in fact hurting the thousands of LGBTQ Pennsylvanians who suffer directly from these current demonstrations of harassment,” she said.
“Your actions perpetuate the spirit of intolerance and discrimination against LGBTQ individuals and specifically transgender individuals.”
Levine went on to note that despite last month’s Supreme Court ruling protecting LGBTQ+ people from workplace discrimination, queer and trans people still face legal barriers in Pennsylvania, especially when it comes to housing and public accommodations.
Supreme Court Rules LGBTQ+ People Protected from Employment Discrimination
The ruling makes it illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
She also highlighted the increased levels of violence that trans people, especially trans women of color, continue to experience on a daily basis across the US, noting that the most vulnerable groups of our population deserve protection.
Wrapping up her remarks, Levine called on all Pennsylvania residents to become more accepting of LGBTQ+ people and set an example for the next generation.
“Our children are watching — they are watching what we do and they are watching how we act,” she said. “And to all LGBTQ young people: It is OK to be you, and it is OK to stand up for your rights and your freedoms.”