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Trump campaign adviser 'won't apologize' for misgendering trans health official

Jenna Ellis, an attorney and once a frequent Fox News guest, misgendered Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine in a tweet.
IMAGE: Jenna Ellis and President Donald Trump
Jenna Ellis with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office.via Facebook

Trump campaign adviser Jenna Ellis intentionally misgendered Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine, a transgender woman, on Twitter early Monday morning.

“This guy is making decisions about your health," Ellis wrote in a tweet that included an image and article about Levine, who has been leading Pennsylvania's COVID-19 response since the beginning of the pandemic.

Ellis, who was a frequent guest on Fox News before being tapped as a senior legal adviser to the president's re-election campaign, has a history of making anti-LGBTQ remarks, as NBC News previously reported.

Rachel Levine, physician general for the state of Pennsylvania, with her mother Lillian Levine, in Harrisburg, Pa., on May 16, 2016.
Rachel Levine, physician general for the state of Pennsylvania, with her mother Lillian Levine, in Harrisburg, Pa., on May 16, 2016.Bonnie Jo Mount / The Washington Post via Getty Images file

When asked by NBC News about her "public misgendering" of Levine, Ellis, through a Trump campaign spokesperson, called the backlash to her remark "both hilarious and tragic."

"The truth of biology shows that human beings are created immutably male and female. Yet in our post-truth society, the progressive leftists not only demand that we affirm patently false facts, but also demand we not ‘offend’ people who insist on speaking their lies, otherwise we are called insensitive bigots and required to apologize," Ellis stated. "I won’t apologize."

The White House declined to comment.

A spokesperson for Levine, one of the country's most high-profile transgender officials, told NBC News the doctor "does not have time for this nonsense," when asked for a response to Ellis' tweet.

“Dr. Levine is laser-focused on assisting Pennsylvanians in the midst of a national pandemic,” Nate Wardle, the Pennsylvania Department of Health spokesperson, said.

Last month, in response to a stream of transphobic comments, Levine took time before her daily coronavirus briefing to make a personal statement denouncing “the multiple incidents of LGBTQ harassment and specifically transphobia directed at me that have been reported in the press.”

“Our children are watching — they are watching what we do and they are watching how we act,” Levine said. “And to all LGBTQ young people: It is OK to be you, and it is OK to stand up for your rights and your freedoms.”

Ellis' transphobic comment about Levine is not the first time she has publicly made an anti-LGBTQ remark. In 2016, she called the designation of the historic Stonewall Inn in New York as a national monument a "celebration of sin." And just last year, she decried the Star Wars franchise's plan to include LGBTQ characters — which in the end amounted to a seconds-long smooch — in a post on Facebook that has since been deleted.

"Why not also a Christian? Or a Muslim? Or a pedophile? Or every other representation of any subculture, belief, and lifestyle?" Ellis wrote. "This overwhelming need to have LGBT 'representation' everywhere shows the falsity of their cry for equality. They want absolute subjugation of culture."

In response to Ellis’ transphobic tweet, Pennsylvania state Rep. Brian Sims, a Democrat from Philadelphia, called Levine “a world-class public health expert who has been saving countless thousands of lives” and a “hero to LGBTQ+ people like me and doesn’t deserve your scorn or mockery.”

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