The fair in Bloomsburg, Columbia County, included a dunk tank attraction whose target was someone impersonating Dr. Rachel Levine, who leads the state’s coronavirus response, among other health initiatives.
Levine, 63, is among a small group of openly transgender government officials in the U.S.
“Hate has no place in Pennsylvania,” Wolf wrote in response to reports about the fair incident.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, left, lashed out this week after Health Secretary Rachel Levine was mocked at a weekend fair in Columbia County.
In a Twitter message Wednesday, Wolf described the dunk tank situation as “transphobic” behaviors and defended Levine, claiming she has been a target of “relentless” attacks despite her work qualifications.
“I want to talk about the transphobic incident involving the Bloomsburg Fair,” Wolf wrote, beginning a Twitter thread. “This is the latest in a relentless series of vile slurs directed at Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine – a highly skilled and accomplished member of my administration.”
Following the fair, its operator, the Bloomsburg Fair Association, posted a social media message, claiming the Levine impersonator was “a hit and raised a lot of money for the local fire companies,” according to KDKA-TV of Pittsburgh.
The person working inside the dunk tank was later identified as Main Township Fire Chief David Broadt, who told the Press Enterprise of Bloomsburg he merely put on a blonde wig, “going for a Marilyn Monroe look,” but played along after members of the crowd started saying he resembled Levine.
Others speaking out against the incident included U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and state Rep. Brian Sims of Philadelphia, an LGBTQ activist.
“The members of the Pennsylvania transgender community are our neighbors and friends. Treat them that way,” Casey wrote on Twitter on Monday.
“I can’t begin to say how disgusted I am with the transphobia that occurred at, and was subsequently promoted by, the @BloomsburgFair today,” Sims wrote.
Levine addressed the matter herself during a news conference Tuesday, Pittsburgh’s KDKA-TV reported.
“My only reaction is that I am going to stay — no matter what happens — laser-focused on protecting the public health in Pennsylvania,” she said.