The Bloomsburg Fair, an annual event held for more than a century and one of the largest of its kind on the east coast, is under fire for its dunking booth, in which a man was dressed as Dr. Rachel Levine, the state’s Secretary of Health, who is transgender. Photos of the dunk tank, which was a benefit for a several fire departments serving communities around Bloomsburg, were posted to the fair’s Facebook page.
Said the text on the post accompanied by photos of a drenched man in a dress: “Dr. Levine? Thank you you were a hit and raised a lot of money for local fire companies. Wonder why so many were trying to dunk you. Thanks everyone that came out to support our local fire companies.”
NBC Philadelphia reports: “Levine, a well-regarded pediatrician by training, is transgender and in addition to heading up the commonwealth’s public health efforts, acts as the chief medical officer overseeing the state’s coronavirus response. She is one of the highest-profile trans individuals in public office. As the person guiding Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s decision-making on the COVID-19 pandemic, Levine has been a frequent target of ire from residents upset over shutdowns and restrictions like mandatory face mask mandates. Some of the criticism has included personal attacks on her gender identity. … Fair officials provided a statement to FOX56, a local TV affiliate in the region, saying it was not a “commentary on Dr. Lavine’s [sic] transgender identity.” Dr. Levine’s name was misspelled throughout the statement.”
The full statement: “On behalf of the Bloomsburg Fair, we are responding to a series of inquiries and comments regarding using the likeness of an individual dressed as Dr. Rachel Lavine in a dunk tank at the Columbia Montour County Fireman’s Relief Carnival. The sole purpose of the dunk tank, which was operated by the Bloomsburg Fair, was to utilize the likeness of a public figure in an effort to raise monies for local fire companies. The fundraising activities of such organizations have been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the governmental restrictions which have been imposed, accordingly, our intention was simply an effort to raise money to assist these organizations. At no time was it the intention of the Bloomsburg Fair, anyone affiliated with the Fair, including any sponsors of the Carnival, to knowingly utilize the likeness of Dr. Lavine in a dunk tank as any form of commentary on Dr. Lavine’s transgender identity. The Bloomsburg Fair and the sponsors of the event do not endorse any comments which arose subsequent to the event which disparage Dr. Lavine’s transgender identity or any other discriminatory comments.”
Out Pennsylvania State Rep. Brian Sims denounced the dunk tank in a statement posted to Twitter.