Joe Biden condemns anti-trans legislation in Transgender Day of Visibility statement: ‘Some of the bravest people I know’

The president’s proclamation follows an explosion of state bills targeting LGBT+ Americans

Alex Woodward
New York
Thursday 30 March 2023 18:06 BST
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Related video: Biden condemns Florida’s ‘cruel’ treatment of trans children

President Joe Biden condemned a wave of state-level attempts to strip gender-affirming care from transgender Americans and celebrated trans and nonbinary people as “some of the bravest people I know” in his proclamation recognising Transgender Day of Visibility.

The International Transgender Day of Visibility, recognised annually on 31 March, seeks to celebrate trans people and bring attention to violence and discrimination against trans people worldwide.

“We see them, they belong, and they should be treated with dignity and respect,” Mr Biden said in his proclamation on 30 March. “Their courage has given countless others strength, but no one should have to be brave just to be themselves. Every American deserves that freedom.”

There are nearly 2 million people living in the US who identify as transgender, representing fewer than 1 per cent of all Americans. Yet states are increasingly engaged with legislation and policies to restrict or eliminate access to gender-affirming medical care and other support systems, “terrifying families and hurting kids who are not hurting anyone,” Mr Biden said.

At least 10 states have enacted laws or policies banning gender-affirming care for young trans people, and more than a dozen others are considering similar measures. More than half of all trans youth in the US between the ages of 13 and 17 are at risk of losing access to age-appropriate and medically necessary gender-affirming care in their home state, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

Trans people are also four times more likely than cisgender people to be the victim of a violent crime, including rape and assault, according to a 2021 study from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. The killings of trans people have more than doubled from 2017 to 2021, when at least 59 trans people were killed in homicides, according to Everytown for Gun Safety.

“An epidemic of violence against transgender women and girls, in particular women and girls of colour, has taken lives far too soon,” said Mr Biden, pointing to last year’s mass shooting inside a Colorado Springs LGBT+ nightclub as “another painful example of this kind of violence – a stain on the conscience of our nation.”

The president’s proclamation urges Congress to pass the Equality Act to extend “long-overdue civil rights protections” and federal antidiscrimination rules to LGBT+ people.

“Transgender Americans shape our nation’s soul – proudly serving in the military, curing deadly diseases, holding elected office, running thriving businesses, fighting for justice, raising families, and much more,” Mr Biden added.

“As kids, they deserve what every child deserves: the chance to learn in safe and supportive schools, to develop meaningful friendships, and to live openly and honestly. As adults, they deserve the same rights enjoyed by every American, including equal access to healthcare, housing, and jobs and the chance to age with grace as senior citizens. But today, too many transgender Americans are still denied those rights and freedoms,” according to the proclamation.

His pointed to his administration’s executive actions supporting LGBT+ people in schools and in the military and his approval of the Respect for Marriage Act into law, which enshrines marriage equality protections affirmed by the US Supreme Court.

“Together, we also have to keep challenging the hundreds of hateful state laws that have been introduced across the country, making sure every child knows that they are made in the image of God, that they are loved, and that we are standing up for them,” he added.

The statement comes one day after Republican lawmakers in Kentucky and West Virginia passed state bans on gender-affirming care, and as GOP officials and far-right activists seize on the mass shooting inside a Nashville school to amplify anti-trans rhetoric and build support for legislation targeting LGBT+ people.

In the aftermath of the shooting, right-wing personalities have made unfounded claims that trans Americans are fuelling an epidemic of mass shooters and falsely suggested that gender-affirming healthcare regimens increase the likelihood of violence.

Democratic members of Congress also have re-introduced a Trans Bill of Rights to develop a “comprehensive policy framework to provide protections for transgender and nonbinary people, ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to thrive, regardless of their gender identity or expression,” according to a statement from US Rep Pramila Jayapal, co-chair of the Transgender Equality Task Force.

“Day after day, we see a constant onslaught of anti-trans rhetoric and legislation coming from elected officials,” she said. “Today we say enough is enough.”

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