Democratic President Joe Biden recently nominated Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania's Secretary of Health, for the position of Assistant Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary.
If confirmed by the Senate, she will be the first openly transgender person to hold a federal appointment.
President-elect Biden has nominated Dr. Levine to serve as Assistant HHS Secretary. A deeply experienced public ser… https://t.co/fNMgakVyo0— The White House (@The White House)1611074249.0
Needless to say, some Republicans have handled this groundbreaking moment for the LGBTQ community with shameful transphobia.
One Pennsylvania lawmaker, Republican Jeffrey Pyle, shared a mocking meme on Facebook. The transphobic, insulting post was met with swift backlash.
The Pennsylvania General Assembly's LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus issued a formal statement in response:
"The members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly's LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus immediately call upon the leadership of the House Republican Caucus and the Speaker of the PA House to reprimand Rep. Jeff Pyle for his transphobic attack on Pennsylvania Secretary of Health, and Biden Assistant Secretary of Health-nominee, Dr. Rachel Levine."
"In a recent post to social media, Rep. Pyle made overt, hurtful, and dangerous attacks on Sec. Levine's gender identity as a Transgender person. The kind of discrimination and hatred displayed by Rep. Pyle aren't just antithetical to the values and morals established in our Constitution, they are a direct violation of the public trust afforded to him as a member of the General Assembly."
"Moreover, by attacking Sec. Levine in this way, Rep. Pyle has perpetuated both transphobia and discrimination against the LGBTQ+ communities which have among the highest rates of civil rights violations and discrimination in the nation, often with deadly consequences."
"By attacking Sec. Levine, Rep. Pyle has brought the House of Representatives into dishonor and disrepute and until his actions are addressed, he continues to place her, and hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ+ people in the Commonwealth at risk for further discrimination to attack."
"I [Caucus Chair Rep. Brian Skms] have conferred with my colleagues, members of the LGBTQ Caucus and the leadership of the Democratic Caucus, and all are in agreement that this discriminatory and dangerous behavior must be condemned by House Republican leadership."
"Homophobia and transphobia have no place in the General Assembly or in our commonwealth."
REPRIMAND: As Co-Chair of the LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus I have conferred with my colleagues, members Caucus & the Demo… https://t.co/MoXS4vPt8j— Brian Sims (@Brian Sims)1611271656.0
In his defense, Pyle claimed he had "no idea" the image would be "received as poorly as it was."
●EUGHH!🤬😡😡 ‘Pennsylvania representative Brian Sims has blasted fellow state lawmaker Jeffrey Pyle for sharing a tra… https://t.co/ySL1Kfu4gz— TransValid (@TransValid)1611399753.0
Pyle was rebuked by his colleagues in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, with some calling for his resignation.
House Democratic leaders issued this statement about a transphobic post by a Republican member. “Rachel Levine se… https://t.co/dNxJ1KO4cx— PA House Democrats (@PA House Democrats)1611262486.0
“...failures which led to 400,000 Americans lost to COVID-19. We hope Rep. Pyle will strongly reconsider his failed… https://t.co/70JvQk6lai— PA House Democrats (@PA House Democrats)1611262486.0
This is a post from Rep. Pyle one of my GOP colleagues about outgoing Sec of Health Sec. Levine. Unfortunately tran… https://t.co/1qoh1Uw6qu— Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (@Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta)1611261490.0
Pennsylvanians were similarly critical of Pyle.
Many did not believe he simply didn't know his post was hurtful.
@WJACTV He should resign. No one who does that can be an honest, fair legislator for Pennsylvanians.— GotTheBlues (@GotTheBlues)1611537936.0
@WJACTV Shame on you; you’re a bully. Don’t insult the public with ” I have learned from this and will now move on.… https://t.co/SMAaqJHg9m— Kerry Mastrine (@Kerry Mastrine)1611604611.0
@ABC Apologies to little to undo the damage that is done, especially when such apologies are insincere. Maybe, if h… https://t.co/eseiSwFwNB— Mr.C (@Mr.C)1611443468.0
Others pointed out—like most powerful men caught behaving badly—Pyle failed to apologize for his actions.
He simply apologized his "joke" wasn't received better.
@ABC He only apologized because according to him....”he “had no idea" the post mocking Levine “would be ... receive… https://t.co/d7WRTC309e— CrazEKatLayde (@CrazEKatLayde)1611497550.0
@ABC Iy wasn't even an apology about his bigotry. He was sorry that people didn't think he was funny. He hasn't learned a thing.— bettie hilliker (@bettie hilliker)1611443771.0
Such casual transphobia should never be acceptable from an elected representative.
The PA rep Jeff Pyle should be ousted for his horrible statements about Dr. Rachel Levine. Get him out of office.— Shelly Steiner (@Shelly Steiner)1611428669.0
@PAGOP shame on Jeff Pyle and please condemn his transphobia immediately. Dr. Levine is a rock star. https://t.co/nfcSpSQqya— Michaeline (@Michaeline)1611284555.0
It seems Jeffrey Pyle's reputation has taken a notable dip in the wake of this controversy, while Dr. Rachel Levine is expected to be confirmed to her position by the U.S. Senate very soon.