President Joe Biden is looking to put action behind the message of support to trans Americans he made during his first Joint Address to Congress last week.
According to The Daily Beast, the Biden administration and the Humans Rights Campaign (HRC) are currently discussing responses to the substantial number of anti-trans bills making their way through 30-plus state legislatures. “We are having conversations with the Biden administration about additional actions that they should be taking as it relates to anti-LGBTQ bills that we’re seeing in these states,” said HRC president Alphonso David.
“We are exploring variety of ways where the administration could be even more active. Federal agencies interpret federal law. And I believe in many cases, the bills being passed in many states across the country violate federal law, including the constitution.,” David added.
“There are options and actions that have yet to be taken that we are engaging with the Biden administration on as they explore different ways where they can be even more impactful. We can anticipate more actions from the Biden administration as related to these bills. I think more needs to be done, and we are engaging with them to do more.”
In a separate statement, the Department of Justice said it plans to “fully enforce our civil rights statutes to protect transgender individuals,” potentially signaling that a fight on the application of more than 100 trans-exclusionary bills could be brewing in the courts.
These reports come one week after President Biden offered support to America’s trans community, with specific mention of trans youth, during his first joint address to Congress. “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.
The comment was praised by many, but a large number of trans individuals and advocates called on the president to put his words into action in a tangible way. A GLAAD survey on President Biden’s first 100 days revealed that 77% of LGBTQ adults feel unsafe with elected officials trying to pass laws that limit LGBTQ rights.
“At a time when anti-trans legislation aimed at harming trans youth is moving through statehouses at an alarming rate, President Biden’s words are welcomed, but don’t go far enough,” said Transgender Law Center executive director Kris Hayashi to The Daily Beast. “To truly have our backs, the administration must take action against states enacting these laws, immediately end the detention of trans people, and address the police killings of Black people and the crisis of violence Black trans women face in this nation.”
“We are having conversations with the Biden administration about additional actions that they should be taking as it relates to anti-LGBTQ bills that we’re seeing in these states,” David said. “But we want to make sure we don’t lose sight of how important those words are, and how important his early actions have been to support and protect LGBTQ people throughout the country.”
Much of the focus on protecting LGBTQ civil rights under the Biden administration has been the passage of the Equality Act. The bill, which would classify gender identity and sexual orientation as protected classes under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, is still waiting to be voted on by the Senate. The likelihood of the bill garnering the 60 votes needed to pass remains heavily in doubt, but the Biden White House continues to center its passage when commenting on the growing threats to LGBTQ, and specifically trans, rights in this country.
That fact still has some saying the message coming from the White House still isn’t as actionable as it should be. “I’m hopeful, but it feels like lip service at this point. Come on, it’s now or never! I want to see the Equality Act passed, and the DOJ sue states like Texas and Tennessee. In a nutshell, I’d say, ‘Thank you Mr. President, but this doesn’t go far enough,’” said Amber Briggle, mother to a trans son living in Texas.
“Instead of having our backs, I want him to get out front and turn this around. Trans children are actively hurting, not just with the passing of bills, but even with the rhetoric around them. They’re feeling really defeated and scared.”
According to an Axios report, many within the medical community fear how those feelings of defeat and fear will continue to manifest if these measures targeting trans youth go into effect. “I see multiple patients daily that are suffering with depression and suicide ideation and suicide attempt and anxiety, and my fear is that if we deny them this evidence-based treatment, we’re only going to see massive more patients come to the emergency room,” said Chrildren’s of Alabama doctor of psychiatry Jesse Martinez Jr.
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