CLAIM: Photo shows Dr. Rachel Levine, President Joe Biden’s nominee for assistant health secretary, with her family.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: Altered photo. Levine’s face was edited into this picture, which actually shows a British family that has been featured on various reality TV shows.
THE FACTS: A day before his inauguration, Biden nominated Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine to be his assistant secretary of health, positioning her to become the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
In the weeks since then, viral social media posts have sought to mock Levine for her weight and gender identity using manipulated images.
One post circulating widely on Facebook on Tuesday showed Levine’s face edited into an altered photograph of the Chawners, a British family who became famous after one daughter, Emma Chawner, performed on the reality TV show “The X Factor.” The family later appeared on a different reality show focused on weight loss called “Lorraine Kelly’s Big Fat Challenge.”
In the image, Levine’s face has been superimposed onto the body of Philip Chawner, and the faces of Samantha and Emma Chawner have been edited.
“Biden’s new overweight transgender health secretary and her/his healthy family,” the post falsely claims. “Dr Rachel Levine, she will be in charge of our healthy lifestyle. Congratulations America!!”
Other posts circulating in the past month have peddled another false claim about the photo, saying it shows Levine and her team of health experts.
Levine, a pediatrician and former Pennsylvania physician general, was appointed as Pennsylvania’s health secretary by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf in 2017, making her one of the few transgender people serving in elected or appointed positions nationwide, the AP previously reported. She was confirmed by the Republican-majority Pennsylvania Senate and has emerged as the public face of the state’s coronavirus response.
This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.
Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536