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Trans health official working day-in, day-out to protect everyone from coronavirus is yet again facing vile transphobia

Nick Duffy July 27, 2020
Rachel Levine

Dr Rachel Levine giving a live update on the coronavirus crisis in Pennsylvania (Facebook/Pennsylvania Department of Health)

Dr Rachel Levine, the trans health official in Pennsylvania heading up the state’s coronavirus response, is facing yet more vile transphobia.

Pennsylvania’s secretary of health has become a well-known figure in the state during the pandemic, leading a daily briefing and spearheading efforts to tackle the spread of the virus.

But the highly-qualified health expert has also faced repeated sickening abuse for being transgender.

The latest incidence comes from Crossroads Tavern in Morris Township, which for some reason thought it was a good idea to sell “Levine balls” named after the official.

The restaurant’s menu states: “Levine balls $.50. Two spicy cheese balls named after health secretary Levine since [she] does not realise [she] has a sex and would not miss them.”

Rachel Levine receives apology from tavern owner over transphobic menu.

The owner has since denied responsibility for grossly transphobic menu and apologised.

A message posted to the Crossroads Tavern Facebook post reads: “Last week a menu was printed for the tavern that was in poor taste. Although I did not print the menu, I am at fault for allowing it to be displayed at my tavern.

“It was in bad taste and I never meant to offend anyone. I am sorry if I allowed it. I am sorry Dr Levine and anyone else that was offended.

“Anyone that knows me, knows that I am not a judgemental person. Once again, I am sorry for my lack of judgement.”

The menu item targeted the trans health official
The menu item targeted the trans health official

Not everyone was totally convinced by the suggestion that the owner was unaware what was on the menu at their restaurant, however.

One response said: “Thank you for taking that down. It was disgusting. Can’t imagine how an owner doesn’t realise what is on their menu but glad it is off.”

Another person wrote: “Commendable that you acknowledged it, but hilarious at the same time. One doesn’t just consciously print a menu like this and display it in their establishment and not mean to offend anyone.”

Pennsylvania’s trans health secretary has been repeatedly targeted with hate

Last week, the Bloomsburg Fair in Pennsylvania faced outcry after putting a man in a dress to ‘impersonate’ Levine — and having people pay money to drop them into the dunk tank.

The fairground posted photos on Facebook from the event with caption: “Dr Levine? Thank you. You were a hit and raised a lot of money for the local fire companies. Wonder why so many were trying to dunk you.”

Governor Tom Wolf later made clear: “Hate has no place in Pennsylvania, even in the smallest transphobic joke, action or social media post.

“I’m calling upon all Pennsylvanians to speak out against hateful comments and acts, including the transphobia directed at Dr Levine and all transgender people in our great commonwealth.”

In May, Levine was forced to call out a radio host who repeatedly referred to her as “sir” during an interview, cutting in: “Please stop misgendering me, it’s really insulting.”

A Republican politician in the state also targeted Levine with posts mocking and deadnaming her, after she recommended people wear face masks in public.

As online trolls delighted in sharing offensive pictures and posts attacking Levine’s gender identity, the LGBT+ community rallied round by spreading the hashtag #Respect4Rachel on social media.

More: Dr Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania

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