Fox New host Tucker Carlson lobbed transphobic attacks against four-star Adm. Rachel Levine on his show Tuesday night, questioning why the nation’s highest-ranking transgender official was honored as a “woman of the year” and calling her a “fake admiral.”
Carlson’s segment came after USA Today dubbed Levine one of its Women of the Year for her role during the COVID-19 pandemic. Other honorees included Melinda French Gates and Simone Biles. Levine, a physician, is the assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services and leads a group of 6,000 uniformed public health officers. She was sworn in as a four-star admiral of the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps in October, only the sixth person to be named as such in the corps’ history.
Levine is also the first female four-star admiral and first openly transgender four-star admiral, achievements hailed by civil rights groups and in the USA Today honor.
Carlson and his guest Candace Owens disagreed.
“A biological man called Rachel Levine is at the very top of the list,” the host declared Tuesday, going on to say: “Levine is a fake admiral and, we’re told, a woman.”
“If Rachel Levine can declare ‘I’m a woman,’ then why can’t I declare that I’m Samoan and demand that you respect me?” he continued. “Why can’t I be whatever I want to be?”
The false comparison feeds into transphobic tropes and perpetuates myths about transgender people. Intentional misgendering can also cause harm and create unsafe environments for transgender people.
Fox News did not immediately reply to HuffPost’s request for comment on Carlson’s comments.
Carlson has lambasted Levine before, saying the Biden administration had “gone crazy” for recognizing her long career in public service.
“It is ridiculous. Sorry, not playing along,” the Fox News host said in October. “But they don’t think it is. And so you have to ask yourself, how long will it be before Joe Biden appoints his horse to the Supreme Court?”
Thank you, @USATODAY for recognizing me as one of the courageous Women of the Year—such an honor! My definition of courage: be true to yourself, be true to who you are, and then pay that forward by doing work for the common good. https://t.co/NYf8r1lxJy
— ADM Rachel Levine (@HHS_ASH) March 14, 2022
Levine told USA Today this week that her philosophy throughout her career was simply having “compassion for others and to help others to serve,” adding she feels everything she’s done before the pandemic “has all led to this moment in terms of helping the nation through this greatest public health crisis that we have faced in over a hundred years.”
“You have to be true to yourself and I think that you have to be who you are,” she told the newspaper when asked about her own journey of self-acceptance. “You have tremendous worth just for who you are, no matter who you love, no matter who you are, no matter what your gender identity, sexual orientation or anything else, and to be, be true to that. And then everything else will follow.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.