President Joe Biden has issued the first presidential proclamation honoring Transgender Day of Visibility, a worldwide holiday commemorating the achievements of trans people across the globe.
Starting in 2009, Rachel Crandall-Crocker, a transgender woman from Michigan, created Transgender Day of Visibility for transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary people to celebrate their accomplishments — which often go unrecognized. The day is also key in raising awareness of the growing violence and discrimination facing the community.
Now the president is recognizing March 31 as a day to celebrate trans folks.
“Their trailblazing work has given countless transgender individuals the bravery to live openly and authentically,” Biden wrote. “This hard-fought progress is also shaping an increasingly accepting world in which peers at school, teammates and coaches on the playing field, colleagues at work, and allies in every corner of society are standing in support and solidarity with the transgender community.”
While the president highlighted the increased visibility of trans people, he also denounced the scrutiny and violence that has followed.
“In spite of our progress in advancing civil rights for LGBTQ+ Americans, too many transgender people — adults and youth alike — still face systemic barriers to freedom and equality,” he wrote. “The crisis of violence against transgender women, especially transgender women of color, is a stain on our nation’s conscience.”
This year alone, there are at least a dozen known violent deaths involving transgender people in the US. This comes after researchers marked last year as the deadliest on record against the community. The Williams Institute, an LGBTQ policy-focused think tank at UCLA, released a report stating that trans people are four times as likely to face violent acts such as rape, sexual assault, and aggravated or simple assault than their cisgender peers.
Biden has drawn praise for his early support of marriage equality and he has pointed to his votes authorizing HIV/AIDS funding as far back as 1987, but he also has some blemishes on his decades-long LGBTQ record. He once supported the implementation of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and voted in support of the Defense of Marriage Act. During a 2020 LGBTQ presidential forum in Iowa, he mixed up the definitions of gender identity and sexual orientation.
Since entering the White House, Biden has used executive orders to confront LGBTQ issues, including his order directing federal agencies to combat discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Last week, the Senate confirmed Rachel Levine, the first out transgender federal official, to serve as the Biden administration’s assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services.
Biden has encouraged lawmakers to pass the Equality Act, a federal bill banning discrimination against LGBTQ people in schools, work, housing, healthcare, and other parts of public life.
“It will serve as a lasting legacy to the bravery and fortitude of the LGBTQ+ movement,” he declared.
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