Rachel Levine, transgender undersecretary of health, calls for ‘stop bullying’ at event at Israeli embassy

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WASHINGTON (JTA) – Speaking at an Israeli Embassy Pride event, Rachel Levine, the openly transgender Jewish undersecretary of health for the Biden administration, called on people to “unite against the bullying” of trans people.

“The past few months have been a difficult time for our LGBTQI-plus community in the United States,” Levine, dressed in the uniform of a US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps admiral, said Wednesday in a pre-recorded video screened at Pride. from the embassy. an event.

“Attacks on the health and well-being of trans youth and trans adults have driven a political wedge into what should be a private, strictly medical conversation,” Levine said. “Now we all need to unite against bullying in public. We see this kind of emotional abuse in our communities. No one deserves this kind of treatment. Certainly not a young person or teenager who is already more likely to be victimized bullying at school.

Levine did not give specific examples, but a number of Republican politicians called for a ban on gender-related medical treatment for anyone under 18 and sought to prevent the availability of material on LGBTQ issues. and trans in schools. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has issued orders that would classify gender-affirming care as child abuse, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed legislation banning teaching about LGBTQ issues, including gender identity, in kindergarten through 3rd grade or in a way that is not “age appropriate” in other grades.

Additionally, LGBTQ events have been subjected to threats of violence and harassment recently.

Israeli officials have highlighted the freedoms of LGBTQ people in the country, which Levine acknowledged. “I commend everyone here today for your commitment to equity in diversity and inclusion, she said, and called for support for young people facing what she called bullying.

“We must stand up strongly for the most underserved and marginalized people in our LGBTQ plus community, including our trans youth and trans women of color,” Levine said. “You should all be able to live your life, no matter who you are or who you love.”

Uzra Zeya, the State Department’s Undersecretary for Human Rights, appeared live at the event and highlighted U.S. cooperation with Israel in advancing LGBTQ rights.

“We celebrate that Israel has a stronger and more diverse LGBTQI organizational network, with the oldest such organization dating back nearly 50 years,” she said. “The United States and Israel work together across the United Nations system to counter hate speech and promote gender equality, LGBTQI-plus rights, the empowerment of women, and the rights of people with disabilities [convention] among many other problems.

Israeli Ambassador Michael Herzog, in his remarks, noted the massive pride events. “Israel is a natural partner in advancing these values,” he said.

Also present at the event were Representatives Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. and Marc Pocan, D-Wis. Betty, an all-Jewish, all-lesbian rock trio, was the musical actor.

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