CLEVELAND — President Joe Biden has tapped the most diverse cabinet in history, with half of the nominees being women and half also being from underrepresented groups.
In addition, the new president has also brought in three high level federal employees who are also sexual minorities. If confirmed, Pete Buttigieg, a gay man, will become Transportation Secretary; Dr. Rachel Levine, a transgender woman, will become Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services; and Shawn Skelly, a transgender woman, is currently on the Department of Defense transition team.
Diversity consultant ChiChi Nkemere with Enlightened Solutions says this is progress.
"This shows that you can be elevated to these positions without being tokenized," she said. "You can be elevated to these positions from other people, allies, advocates and accomplices who will also notice your good works."
Their jobs highlight their knowledge, skill, and expertise. Phyllis Harris, executive director of LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland, says these prominent positions will have a big impact on young people.
"Little LGBT kids who are questioning or who know who they are, they’re learning and they’re watching and they’re seeing themselves," she told 3News. "These recent assignments are a testament to what is possible."
Bethany Studenic with Enlightened Solutions says some adults will have to adapt to accepting these new leaders.
"This is about respecting people’s humanity and it’s about their ability to assert their own freedom," she said. "So even if you have different beliefs about this and you have different thoughts about this, this is not about you."
Even with this progress, Harris says the LGBT community has a long way to go to attain equal rights.
"It is not going to change overnight," she explained. "There is still going to be work to do. We still do not have federal protections."
But for now, she celebrates this historic win.
"I’m feeling Black joy," she gushed. "Black Queer joy, Black Cleveland Queer joy!"