Pennsylvania State Rep. Jeff Pyle is apologizing after posting a tweet comparing Joe Biden’s pick for Assistant Health Secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, who is a transgender woman, to Benjamin Franklin.
Wrote Pyle in a Facebook post bearing Levine’s photo: “American citizens express optimism and renewed hope as Benjamin Franklin joins Joe Biden’s cabinet.”
Pyle was hammered with outrage. Among those taking exception with Pyle’s tweet was out Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Sims, who wrote: “REPRIMAND: As Co-Chair of the LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus I have conferred with my colleagues, members Caucus & the Democratic leadership, and all are in agreement that this discriminatory & dangerous behavior by State @RepJeffPyle must be condemned by House Republican leadership. Homophobia and transphobia have no place in the General Assembly or in our commonwealth. The kind of discrimination & hatred displayed by Rep. Pyle are a direct violation of the public trust afforded to him as a member of the General Assembly.”
“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,” Sims added. “State @RepJeffPyle 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.”
Pyle issued an apology, pleading ignorance: “I had no idea it would be received as poorly as it was. Tens of thousands of emails assured me it was. I owe an apology and I offer it humbly. My grandfather, a very wise man, taught me within every bad situation there is a glimpse of good and I just had to find it. From this situation I have learned not to poke fun at people different than me and to hold my tongue. Be a bigger man.”
Pyle also said he was leaving Facebook soon but was not resigning.
Rep. Pyle has issued the following statement. Apologies are rare and while I hope that this one also comes with support or at least condemnation of future discrimination, I’m glad to see it. pic.twitter.com/HQLJZCEreC— Brian Sims (@BrianSimsPA) January 23, 2021
Levine’s confirmation would make her the first transgender federal official to be confirmed by the Senate.
Towleroad readers will remember that Levine made headlines last year when she was purposely misgendered by Trump’s senior legal adviser (and Big Lie pusher) Jenna Ellis, who tweeted a photo of Levine, remarking, “This guy is making decisions about your health.”
Levine was also mocked at Pennsylvania’s Bloomsburg fair, where a man dressed as her was placed in a dunking booth.
NBC Philadelphia reports: “A pediatrician and former Pennsylvania physician general, Levine was appointed to her current post by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf in 2017, making her one of the few transgender people serving in elected or appointed positions nationwide. She won past confirmation by the Republican-majority Pennsylvania Senate and has emerged as the public face of the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.”
Said Biden: “Dr. Rachel Levine will bring the steady leadership and essential expertise we need to get people through this pandemic — no matter their zip code, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability — and meet the public health needs of our country in this critical moment and beyond. She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts.”