Among the many important and wide-ranging issues covered in President Joe Biden’s first address to a joint session of Congress, he conveyed a special message to all transgender Americans, especially trans youth, on Wednesday night.
In addition to imploring Congress to pass his proposed American Jobs Plan, American Families Plan, and police reform, President Biden added, “I also hope Congress can get to my desk the Equality Act to protect the rights of LGBTQ Americans.”
“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,” the President said.
The Equality Act, which was passed by the House in February but has yet to receive a vote in the Senate, would provide consistent and explicit anti-discrimination protections nationwide for LGBTQ people across key areas of life, including employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs, and jury service.
President Biden already has a track record of supporting LGBTQ+ issues just three months into his term. On his first day in office on January 20, Biden signed an executive order implementing last year’s Bostock v. Clayton County Supreme Court decision across the federal government. That ruling declared that anti-LGBTQ+ job discrimination is a form of sex discrimination and is therefore illegal.
The Biden administration already is applying the ruling’s principles to other venues beyond just employment. The Equality Act, however, would write these principles into law, so the anti-discrimination policy couldn’t just be undone by a future president’s executive action.
Biden previously has said trans rights are the civil rights issue of our time, and one of his earliest acts in office was lifting Donald Trump’s trans military ban.
LGBTQ+ rights activists from PFLAG, the Human Rights Campaign, NextGen America, and more praised President Biden’s mentions of the Equality Act and trans Americans in last night’s speech to Congress.
PFLAG national executive director Brian K. Bond, who previously served in the Obama-Biden administration, issued this statement (per the Advocate): “We are grateful to President Biden for his unwavering support of our LGBTQ+ loved ones. His commitment to passing the Equality Act — critical legislation that would modernize our nation’s civil rights laws by including explicit protections for LGBTQ people, as well as improve protections for women, people of color, people with different national origins, and people of all faiths — has meant so much to our families. We are also moved by his vocal support of our trans kids, whose rights and very lives have been under assault with hundreds of dangerous and damaging bills in 33 states across this country.”
As Bond notes, more than 30 state legislatures have proposed more than 115 bills that would limit health care and other rights for trans people. There is an emphasis on curtailing the rights of trans children, and many of the state-level bills are aimed at keeping trans youth from competing in sports under their gender identity or denying them gender-affirming health care. So far, eight explicitly anti-LGBTQ bills have been signed into law in the United States this year, and 10 more sit on governors’ desks.
Two-thirds of Americans are against laws that would limit transgender rights, a PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll found. That opposition includes majorities of every political ideology from liberal to conservative and every age group.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has taken as stand against “dangerous” bills harming trans youth.
“With alarm and dismay, pediatricians have watched bills advance through state legislatures across the country with the sole purpose of threatening the health and well-being of transgender youth,” said AAP president Lee Savio Beers, MD, FAAP, in a statement released in March. “The American Academy of Pediatrics has long been on the record in support of affirmative care for transgender children through our clinical policy. Today, we are going on the record to oppose public policies that would allow for the opposite.”
We’re love these queer celebrity parents.