Fact check: Digitally altered photograph of assistant U.S. health secretary Rachel Levine

An altered photo of assistant U.S. health secretary Dr Rachel Levine has been circulating on social media in which Levine’s face has been superimposed onto a photo of someone who participated in the UK television show Lorraine Kelly’s Big Fat Challenge.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

The posts (here  ,  here  ,  here) show three overweight people, one with Levine’s head digitally superimposed, with a caption saying, “Biden’s new overweight transgender health secretary and her/his healthy family. Dr Rachel Levine, she will be in charged (sic) of our healthy lifestyle. Congratulations America!!”

Levine, a professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the Penn State College of Medicine (here) who has led Pennsylvania’s response to the novel coronavirus outbreak as the commonwealth’s top health official, was named by President Biden as assistant health secretary for the new administration, becoming the first openly transgender official to be confirmed by the Senate (here) .

The photo being used in the social media posts appears to be almost identical to one in an article in the UK news outlet the Mirror on July 4, 2015, as seen  here  . It shows Philip Chawner with his daughters Samantha and Emma who appeared in the UK TV show Lorraine Kelly’s Big Fat Challenge in 2009 (here) .

Levine’s actual appearance can be seen in photos by Reuters, Getty Images and the Associated Press here  , here  and here  .

Levine has two children, David and Dayna (here) but Reuters was not able to find photos of them to establish whether their faces were also superimposed onto the Mirror photo.

Levine has addressed the mockery and often transphobic misinformation targeted at her in the past (here , here) .


Altered. Levine’s face has been superimposed onto a photo of a family who participated in a TV weight-loss challenge in the UK.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here  .