Candace Owens claims USA Today's designation of Adm. Rachel Levine as a “Woman of the Year” points to a government “Marxist” plot to take down “the nuclear family”
Owens and Fox host Tucker Carlson were among the right-wing media personalities lobbing anti-trans attacks at Levine, the assistant secretary for health, for the USA Today honor
On Tuesday, Fox News host Tucker Carlson and guest Candace Owens of The Daily Wire attacked USA Today’s recent selection of Adm. Rachel Levine as one of a dozen women recognized as part of its Women of the Year program. During the Tucker Carlson Tonight segment, just one of a host of right-wing attacks against Levine over the recognition, Carlson and Owens consistently misgendered Levine and deployed hateful anti-trans rhetoric, furthering their record of attacking both Levine and trans people broadly.
Levine was honored by the paper for her role in helping to fight the COVID-19 pandemic as assistant secretary for health. She is both the highest-ranking transgender official in the U.S. and the country’s first woman four-star officer, serving as an admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.The division of the Department of Health and Human Services is composed of health professionals who address public health crises through treatment and research, a role that has been instrumental during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beyond discussing the pandemic, Levine touched on topics including body image challenges and the critical roles women have played in effecting positive social change. She was also asked if she had any advice for trans people, responding that it was important “to be true to yourself.”
Levine has long been at the receiving end of transphobic attacks, facing misgendering and other public harassment for her identity while serving as health secretary of Pennsylvania under Gov. Tom Wolf.
Carlson opened Tuesday’s segment by repeating lies about Levine’s record in Pennsylvania, saying she “forced nursing homes to take COVID-positive patients even as Levine snuck Levine's mother into a private facility.” In reality, the steps she took to readmit previously positive-testing patients followed federal guidance, and Levine’s mother personally chose to leave the home she was living in, which was not even under Levine’s supervision.
Adding to his history of denying the qualifications of trans women, Carlson called Levine a “fake admiral,” even though her division is a uniformed service subject to the same laws that apply to all branches of the military and whose members earn the same benefits as any military veteran. Levine currently serves as professor of pediatrics and psychology at Penn State University and graduated from Harvard College and Tulane University School of Medicine.
Carlson’s guest Candace Owens joined in on attacking Levine, claiming during her appearance that “we are actually erasing women,” and bashing trans athletes, asserting, “Now you can just throw on a wig and say, ‘Actually, I'm a woman, too’ and you can crush all of their records.” The Daily Wire host also charged Hillary Clinton, who last sought elected office six years ago, with being “quiet on [the] topic” of “men taking the spots of women,” which Owens characterized as an “existential crisis.” (Trans people represent just over 1% of the U.S. population, and Levine was one of 12 women given the USA Today title and one of 59 total women honored by the program this year.)
Owens further escalated rhetoric into conspiracy theories, speculating that Levine’s recognition by a newspaper “gets back to Marxist ideology. …It’s always about disrupting the family unit. The government gains more power when people are confused, right? If you don’t know whether you’re a woman or a man, you’re not going to have a functional nuclear family unit, right? Instead you’re going to be dysfunctional, and dysfunctional people tend to rely upon the government. That’s what is happening right now. That’s what you are seeing this push for.”
Carlson’s show joins a slew of segments and articles attacking Rachel Levine following USA Today’s selection:
- The Washington Examiner published an op-ed from Christopher Tremoglie headlined “Male doctor wins ‘Woman of the Year' award” that misgendered and deadnamed Levine and asked, “What has Levine has done to help the nation, other than be among those responsible for a record-breaking loss of life?”
- Newsmax host Rob Schmitt targeted Levine, saying, “So why is Rachel Levine so special? Well, solely because she's not a woman,” before repeating the previously mentioned lies about her time serving in Pennsylvania.
- An article for The Blaze misgendered Levine and said USA Today’s selection was “a distinction that flies in the face of biological reality.”
- An article for The Christian Post, a right-wing evangelical newspaper, both misgendered and deadnamed Levine before engaging in a long anti-trans screed that targeted trans swimmer Lia Thomas and quoted anti-trans author Abigail Shrier.
- Tim Young, columnist for The Washington Times, tweeted that Levine was selected by USA Today “for literally just showing up to work in a dress,” adding, “Name ANY other reason ‘she"’ would earn this award.”
- Right-wing podcaster Steven Crowder, a figure with a prolific history of transphobia, took a similar route as Young, tweeting, “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.”
Levine has a long history of public service as a medical professional. In addition to treating adolescent patients as a pediatric physician at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City, she helped to address Pennsylvania’s opioid crisis by issuing a standing order for the anti-overdose drug Naloxone, a measure that likely saved the lives of thousands in the state.