HARRISBURG (KDKA) — Dr. Rachel Levine, the state Secretary of Health, has responded to what she considers recent transphobic remarks and depictions of her that she says are harmful to the larger LGBTQ community.

In a press conference, Levine started by remarking on people’s remarks and actions surrounding her gender identity:

“I feel that I must personally respond to the multiple incidents of LGBTQ harassment and specifically transphobia directed at me that have been reported in the press. I would first like to sincerely thank Governor Wolf for his continued support and for his comments last week. The LGBTQ community has made so much progress under Governor Wolf and his leadership during his time in office,” Levine said. “But I want to emphasize, that while these individuals think that they are only expressing their displeasure with me, they are, in fact, hurting the thousands of LGBTQ Pennsylvanians who suffer directly from these current demonstrations of harassment. Your actions perpetuate the spirit of intolerance and discrimination against LGBTQ individuals and specifically transgender individuals.”

“It is only one month ago that the Supreme Court prohibited discrimination in the workplace due to sexual orientation and gender identity. But LGBTQ individuals can still be denied housing and public accommodations in most places in Pennsylvania. They do not have local, non-discrimination ordinances. In addition, the most vulnerable of us continue to suffer, including LGBTQ individuals of color, LGBTQ youth, LGBTQ seniors and LGBTQ immigrants. Transgender women of color continue to not only be harassed but are more likely to suffer violence and even murder. We have not made progress unless we have all made progress. It is in this space that these acts of intolerance live and where we need to continue to work against them.”

“To the perpetrators of these and the perpetrators of these actions: if your apologies are sincere, then I accept your apologies. But an apology is the beginning, not the end, of the conversation. I call on you, I call on you and all Pennsylvanians to work towards a spirit of not just tolerance but a spirit of acceptance and welcoming towards LGBTQ individuals. We all need to foster that spirit of acceptance and welcoming to LGBTQ individuals and celebrate the wonderful diversity of our Commonwealth. Our children are watching. They are watching what we do, and they are watching how we act. And to all LGBTQ young people it is okay to be you. And it is okay to stand up for your rights and your freedoms. As for me, I have no room in my heart for hatred, and frankly I do not have time for intolerance. My heart is full for the burning desire to help peple. And my time is full with working towards protecting the public health of everyone in Pennsylvania. To the impact of the global pandemic due to COVID-19. And I will stay laser-focused on that goal.”

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Last week, a man impersonated Levine at the Bloomsburg Fair. Governor Wolf responded by saying “hate has no place” in Pennsylvania.

Stay with KDKA for more details on this developing story.