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Biden, LGBTQ leaders take aim at GOP-backed legislation on Transgender Day of Visibility

The Hill logo The Hill 3/31/2023 Brooke Migdon
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President Biden in a presidential proclamation and statement commemorating Transgender Day of Visibility on Friday condemned “MAGA extremists” for advancing hundreds of state bills that target the rights of transgender Americans. 

“On Transgender Day of Visibility, we celebrate the strength, joy, and absolute courage of some of the bravest people I know,” Biden said Friday in a statement, adding, “No one should have to be brave just to be themselves.” 

More than 430 bills targeting LGBTQ people in the U.S. have been introduced this year in more than 40 states, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a large percentage of which target transgender Americans, specifically. 

Biden on Friday called the onslaught of bills “un-American” and said recent political attacks against transgender people have worsened discrimination, bullying and the nation’s ongoing mental health crisis.  

More than half of transgender and nonbinary young people surveyed by The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ youth suicide prevention organization, in 2022 said they had seriously considered suicide over the past year. 

“Loving parents are terrified for their children’s futures,” Biden said. His statement included instructions for how transgender young people in need of mental health assistance can contact a counselor trained to support LGBTQ youth via the nationwide suicide prevention and crisis hotline. 

Biden, who in 2021 issued the first presidential proclamation recognizing Transgender Day of Visibility, on Friday said his administration plans to stand against “unjust state laws” that target transgender people and the LGBTQ community more broadly. 

“I want every member of the trans community to know that we see you. You’re each made in the image of God, and deserve love, dignity, and respect,” he said. “You make America stronger, and we’re with you.” 

In a statement posted to Twitter on Friday, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Assistant Secretary Rachel Levine said despite progress, more work needs to be done to protect transgender youths and people of color in the U.S. from discrimination and violence. 

“We need to create healthy people, healthy communities, and a healthy nation for all,” said Levine, the first openly transgender official to win a Senate nomination. 

In posts on social media, members of Congress pledged to fight for transgender Americans and condemned GOP-led legislation that would restrict access to gender-affirming health care and bar transgender youths from playing on school sports teams or using the restroom that matches their gender identity. 

“Every trans kid deserves a chance to be happy and to be themselves,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), whose daughter is transgender, wrote Friday on Twitter. “On #TransDayOfVisibility, and on every other day, I am in this fight with all of you – I’ll always defend trans kids.” 

Jayapal, one of the co-chairs of the Congressional Equality Caucus’s Transgender Equality Task Force, this week re-introduced the Transgender Bill of Rights with Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.). The landmark resolution would guarantee, among other things, civil rights protections for transgender and nonbinary people nationwide. 

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), one of 13 openly LGBTQ members of Congress and the current chair of the Equality Caucus, in a video posted to Twitter on Friday said some “opportunistic” politicians have “built a brand on punching down in hate.” 

Legislation introduced by House Republicans this year to bar transgender women and girls from competing on female sports teams and punish doctors who provide gender-affirming health care to minors have been widely criticized by Democrats and the LGBTQ and medical communities. 

A controversial education bill that passed the House earlier this month states that parents have the right to know whether their child is attending a school that allows transgender women and girls to play on sports teams or use restrooms or locker rooms that are consistent with their gender identity. 

Rep. Maxwell Alejandro Frost (D-Fla.) in a video message on Friday condemned recent actions taken in his home state of Florida that restrict the rights of transgender people and said LGBTQ allies are needed to “fight day and night” for equality. 

“It can’t just be up to the trans community to fight for their own rights,” Frost said. “It has to be every single one of us fighting.” 

Rep. Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.), who has a transgender brother and gender non-conforming sibling, said Friday during a town hall event that in addition to recognizing the harms being done to the transgender community, it’s important to reflect on the positive things transgender people have done for the world. 

“My siblings have made such a big positive difference in my life,” Jacobs, who co-chairs the Transgender Equality Task Force with Jayapal, said Friday. “They’ve inspired me to be braver and more open minded and also to recognize my privilege as a cis woman and the role I can play as an ally.” 

“On this Trans Day of Visibility, I want to affirm all trans people with these simple truths,” Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.), one of the co-chairs of the Equality Caucus this Congress, wrote Friday in a Twitter post. “You deserve respect. You deserve visibility. You deserve to make your own choices about your bodies, your lives, and your futures.” 

“The battle against bigotry isn’t linear, but even when times are dark we can resist and assert our rights.”

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