USA Today came under fire Tuesday for recognizing Biden administration official Rachel Levine, who was born male, as one of its 12 Women of the Year.
The Health and Human Services assistant secretary, billed as the first transgender Senate-confirmed Cabinet official, was honored Sunday by USA Today as a “ground-breaking leader, public health champion, and an advocate.”
“My definition of courage would be to be true to yourself and to be true to who you are, and then to pay that forward, to work toward the common good,” said Ms. Levine in a video on the newspaper’s “Women of the Year” site.
The newspaper’s decision to bestow the honor on a male-born figure was greeted with pushback online from conservatives, feminists and the Babylon Bee, which declared Tuesday that Ms. Levine was its first annual Man of the Year.
“Levine is the U.S. assistant secretary for health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where he serves proudly as the first man in that position to dress like a western cultural stereotype of a woman,” said the satirical outlet.
“He is also an admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. What a boss!” the Bee wrote.
Also weighing in was Abigail Marone, spokeswoman for Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, who tweeted, “What’s even the point of the list anymore? Insulting to women.”
Conservative podcast host Steven Crowder tweeted: “Congratulations, brave and beautiful, former-male Admiral Rachel Levine, for being one of USA Today’s ‘Women of the Year’ just for wearing a dress.”
Transgender Rachel Levine was named one of USA Today’s Women of the Year.— LionHearted (@LionHearted76) March 15, 2022
Where are the Transgender Women who became Men—are they taking spots meant for men to win? Will they be Man of the Year?
A full ASSAULT on women—it’s the OPPOSITE of women’s lib.https://t.co/eHwWLLnhb0
A pediatrician, the 64-year-old Levine transitioned from male to female in 2011.
“We need to be welcoming and celebratory for women of all aspects, of all sizes and shapes,” Ms. Levine told USA Today. “We have to work towards that compassion for all women and not put such an emphasis on thinness and appearance.”
Those congratulating Ms. Levine included White House domestic policy advisor Susan Rice, who tweeted, “your leadership during this pandemic has been vital.”
Ms. Levine is hardly the first male-born figure to receive honors designated for women. Earlier this month, Time magazine named transgender celebrity Michaela Jae Rodriguez, star of the FX series “Pose,” one of its Women of the Year.
USA Today’s other award-winners included Vice President Kamala D. Harris, philanthropist Melinda French Gates, and Olympic gold-medal gymnast Simone Biles.
• Valerie Richardson can be reached at email@example.com.
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