Joe Biden tells transgender Americans ‘the President has your back’

The American President's outward support for transgender Americans was a contrast to his predecessor, as LGBTQ+ groups urge him to pass the Equality Act.

Transgender Americans: portrait of Joe Biden

Joe Biden reaffirmed his commitment to the Equality Act and told transgender Americans that ‘the President has your back’ in a speech on Wednesday to Congress to celebrate his first 100 days in office.

“To all the transgender Americans watching at home – especially the young people who are so brave – I want you to know that your president has your back,” Biden said during the address. “I also hope Congress can get to my desk the Equality Act to protect the rights of LGBT+ Americans.”

The legislation would extend civil rights protections to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in all 50 states.

The words from the President were welcome and a significant change from his predecessor. However, action is needed. More than 100 bills have been filed in statehouses across America targeting the trans community according to The Human Rights Campaign, the largest US LGBTQ rights group. Last month Arkansas became the first state to ban anyone under the age of 18 from accessing gender-affirming healthcare. Doctors will be prohibited from providing hormone treatment or puberty blockers, carrying out gender-affirming surgery or referring trans youth to other providers for treatment once the legislation comes into effect later this year. Just this week a similar bill was voted through in the Texas Senate that would make gender affirmation treatment for adolescents considered to be child abuse. Although it faces a battle to be passed in the House.

Sport is also being targeted by anti-trans Republican politicians in America. Close to 30 states are considering legislation that would ban transgender students from competing on school sports teams that align with their gender identities, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Last week Alabama passed a bill that will now ban transgender women and girls from playing on school sports teams that correspond with their gender identity. This followed in the footsteps of  Arkansas, Tennessee, South Dakota and Mississippi.

Biden’s words have been welcomed by trans advocacy organisations. “The Biden administration has made it clear through their actions that they are allies in the fight for equality and justice for LGBT+ people here in the United States and across the globe,” said President of the Human Rights Campaign Alphonso David in a statement. “Additionally, President Biden made it clear that he supports many more policies that are critical to the LGBTQ community in this country: access to affordable health care and vaccines for all; gun violence prevention; voting rights; police and criminal justice reform; and immigration reform. The Human Rights Campaign applauds the president’s speech tonight, his actions over his first 100 days in office, and the clear drive his administration has to make our country safer and more equal for all.”

GLSEN, an American LGBTQ+ education organization praised “his dedication towards the Equality Act, as well as his support for the safety of our trans youth” before urging people to let their voice be heard and to contact their elected officials to get the Equality Act passed.

© 2021 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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