'Ending violence and discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community demands our continued focus and diligence.'
Killings of transgender and gender nonconforming people in 2021 are occurring at a far faster pace than in previous years.
The violence has not gone without mention by the White House: President Joe Biden has marked the start of LGBTQ Pride Month with a proclamation that brings attention to the issue.
The proclamation, which was published on Tuesday, celebrates progress in the fight for equality while recognizing how far LGBTQ people are from winning full legal protections and greater safety from violence:
For all of our progress, there are many States in which LGBTQ+ individuals still lack protections for fundamental rights and dignity in hospitals, schools, public accommodations, and other spaces. Our Nation continues to witness a tragic spike in violence against transgender women of color. LGBTQ+ individuals — especially youth who defy sex or gender norms — face bullying and harassment in educational settings and are at a disproportionate risk of self-harm and death by suicide. Some States have chosen to actively target transgender youth through discriminatory bills that defy our Nation’s values of inclusivity and freedom for all.
Referring to the killing in a mass shooting of 53 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in 2016, the proclamation says, "Our Nation also continues to face tragic levels of violence against transgender people, especially transgender women of color. And we are still haunted by tragedies such as the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando. Ending violence and discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community demands our continued focus and diligence. As President, I am committed to defending the rights of all LGBTQ+ individuals."
This is not the first time Biden has mentioned publicly violence against transgender women of color. During his campaign for president in October 2020, he said during a town hall broadcast on ABC News, "There should be zero discrimination. And what's happening is too many transgender women of color are being murdered. They're being murdered."
This year, at least 27 transgender and gender nonconforming people have been killed, according to the Human Rights Campaign, on track to surpass 2020's high of at least 44 recorded violent deaths of transgender and gender nonconforming people, the highest number since HRC began tracking in 2013. At this point in 2020, 13 such killings had occurred.
According to a report released by HRC in 2020, 84% of the victims of such killings in the last seven years were transgender women. Sixty-six percent were Black transgender women.
Biden's recognition of Pride Month is very different from Donald Trump's approach when he was in office. In 2017, 2018, and 2020, Trump failed to recognize Pride Month in any way, NBC News reported. He published a tweet about Pride Month in 2019 that was later republished as an official White House statement, but he never issued an official presidential proclamation on Pride Month.
Trump's tweet read, "As we celebrate LGBT Pride Month and recognize the outstanding contributions that LGBT people have made to our great Nation, let us also stand in solidarity with the many LGBT people who live in dozens of countries worldwide that punish, imprison, or even execute individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation. My Administration has launched a global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality and invites all nations to join us in this effort!"
People involved in movements to decriminalize homosexuality across the globe told Mother Jones in 2019 that nothing really came of the campaign except a few panel discussions that were held in Europe.
According to the Washington Blade, Melania Trump planned to light up the White House in LGBTQ Pride flag colors in June of 2020 but was stopped from doing so. Mark Meadows, who was then Donald Trump's chief of staff and has a history of public opposition to LGBTQ rights, is said to have been the White House's failure to express solidarity with LGBTQ people.
The Trump administration attacked LGBTQ equality with rules to keep transgender women out of homeless shelters, remove nondiscrimination protections for transgender students, gut Obama-era guards against anti-LGBTQ discrimination in health care, and implement a ban on service in the military by transgender people. It continued to fight LGBTQ rights even in its last few weeks in power.
The Biden administration has worked to reverse much of the Trump administration's anti-LGBTQ agenda since its first day in office.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.