Biden vows to fight for trans people as Trump tries to take away their rights


Biden said he would fight for transgender Americans if he becomes president.

Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for president, promised to fight for transgender Americans if he occupies the White House next year.

At a virtual event for the Human Rights Campaign on Thursday, Biden said the United States is facing multiple crises, including a pandemic, racial injustice, and an "assault on LGBTQ rights."

Among Biden's plans to advocate for LGBTQ equality is an agenda to reverse Trump policies that enable discrimination against LGBTQ people, ensure transgender people have access to identity documents with the correct gender marker, and guarantee transgender students can access facilities in accordance with their gender.

Biden added that on all of these issues Donald Trump "makes things worse, not better."

He gave a long list of anti-LGBTQ attacks from the Trump administration, many of which target transgender people in particular.

"For four years Donald Trump has tried to roll back the protections for the LGBTQ community," Biden said. "You know, denying access to health care, denying transgender Americans the chance to serve our country, letting adoption agencies and homeless shelters and other public services discriminate, and turning a blind eye to the epidemic of violence against transgender women of color."

At least 27 transgender or gender-nonconforming people have been killed this year. Most of the victims were Black and Latinx transgender women.

Then Biden vowed to "win full rights for transgender Americans."

He also said he would partner with LGBTQ advocates to pass the Equality Act, a bill that provides sweeping nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people, expand access to health care, advance LGBTQ rights internationally, help LGBTQ workers, and "recommit to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2025."

As Biden noted, the Trump administration has made numerous attacks against the LGBTQ community and transgender people in particular. It has rolled back numerous Obama-era protections for transgender people, and it fights progress for transgender people in the courts.

The Trump administration is moving forward with a rule that would encourage single-sex shelters to discriminate against transgender people, and likely anyone who doesn't conform to gender-based stereotypes. In June, it finalized a rule that rolls back nondiscrimination protections for transgender people in health care. In August, a federal judge blocked the rule but did not issue a final opinion.

Last year, the administration argued against transgender equality in a brief for the Supreme Court case R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which involved a trans woman, Aimee Stephens, who said she was fired from a funeral home because she is transgender. Justice Department lawyers did not use Stephens' pronouns in the brief and only referred to her by her name.

Trump's Justice Department argued that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which relates to employment discrimination, does not include protections against "treating a transgender person less favorably than a non-transgender person." The Supreme Court ultimately ruled in June of this year that LGBTQ workers are protected under the law.

Despite that landmark Supreme Court ruling in favor of protections against anti-LGBTQ discrimination, the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights has resisted changing its approach to investigations for transgender students. Although it said it would investigate a complaint related to sexual orientation discrimination because of the ruling, the Office for Civil Rights said schools have a right to keep transgender students out of athletic teams that correspond with their gender.

The move represents what LGBTQ advocates have recently said is a pattern of the Trump administration and the GOP trying to split the LGBTQ community by acknowledging lesbian, gay, and bisexual people and ignoring or outright attacking transgender people.

Richard Grenell, the special presidential envoy for Serbia and Kosovo peace negotiations and former U.S. ambassador to Germany, pumped up Trump as the "most pro-gay president in American history" in a video released by the Log Cabin Republicans in August. He never mentioned transgender people. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany has defended Trump's record on LGBTQ issues by offering a gossamer-thin list of supposed achievements that only mention lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

At the Republican National Convention, GOP speakers claimed everyone is welcome in the Republican Party no matter "who you love," but attacked transgender people and said they would "put our little girls at risk."

Lucas Acosta, national press decretary for campaigns for the Human Rights Campaign, said that over the past few years, as marriage equality has grown in popularity in the United States, the right has "zeroed in on" the transgender community.

"[They have] attempted to divide the LGBTQ community into the LGB and the T in order to continue their hateful attacks but make them, in their view, in any way palatable to people who are open to the idea of gay people but might be apprehensive toward the idea of transgender people ... But what we do know is that these attacks are completely falling flat," Acosta said.

Acosta gave the example of a transphobic attack ad on Danica Roem, a Virginia state delegate, last year when she ran for reelection. Despite the ad, voters reelected her.

"They still don't understand that the playbook on our issues has changed and they can’t run a 2004 style race against our community anymore," Acosta said. "We now are both strong in numbers and in power, in that our issues resonate deeply with voters across the country and with a significant portion of electorate who is not just willing to say, 'Yeah OK great I have a gay cousin and that's all fine with me,' but are actually willing to get out there and do the work to create a better society for LGBTQ people."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.