Thick skins are made of scar tissue. God knows I’ve earned mine over 20-plus years in this job. Some people are powerfully allergic to honesty, and the common reaction is to vent their spleens in emails, antisocial media posts and anonymous, grammatically-challenged rants in the comments section.

It goes with the job, and every nasty reaction tells me I’m doing it right. I am especially encouraged by rage junkies who type tough behind fake names but wouldn’t say “boo” if they saw me in the street. I’m thankful for their subscriptions. They pay to hate me.

My column today is red meat for haters. On the surface, I wrote in defense of state Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine, who is a target of derision for daring to be who she is — a transgender woman who was born a man and happens to be a gifted physician leading the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic with poise, precison and purpose.

The subtext of the column can be summed up in a single word: Dignity. Dr, Levine displays it every day. Her detractors don’t see it, because they focus on the vessel and dismiss what’s inside. They are shallow. Dr. Levine isn’t. She swims in the Deep End while they carp from the kiddie pool. She refuses to be defined by strangers whose hearts and minds are as stunted as their vocabularies.

Dr. Levine earned her scar tissue and she wears it well. Haters hate that.

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Today’s Times-Tribune was produced by community journalists working together while living apart. Get the latest COVID-19 news here. A Scranton company that makes cutting-edge, silver-infused fabric, has joined the fight against coronavirus. Staff Writer Jon O’Connell has the story here. A new model suggests the COVID-19 death toll in Pennsylvania could triple by early August. Staff Writer Borys Krawczeniuk has the story here. Borys also has an update on former Lackawanna County Commissioner Bob Cordaro’s bid to leave prison early due to the pandemic. Read it here.

The Times-Tribune is still here, and so are you. We will get through this together, one day at a time. Hang in there, hunker down and wash your hands. Live with dignity. Be who you are. Out loud.