OPINION: After 50 days of President Joe Biden, LGBT+ Americans are still under attack

by Sarah Kate Ellis | GLAAD
Thursday, 11 March 2021 16:43 GMT

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the state of the U.S. economy and the need to pass coronavirus disease (COVID-19) aid legislation during a speech in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 5, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

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* Any views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

President Joe Biden has taken steps to further LGBT+ rights, but transgender kids access to sport is under threat in 25 states.

Sarah Kate Ellis is President and CEO of GLAAD

We have reached the halfway mark of President Biden’s “First 100 Days”, the mythical moment of evaluation of any new U.S. administration.

The first 50 days have already revealed quite a bit – an administration promising action to address inequities faced by vulnerable people, including LGBT+ Americans; and those determined to use misinformation about our lives and our basic rights to be safe and to belong.

In its first 50 days, according to GLAAD’s new Biden Equality and Accountability Tracker, the Biden administration has taken more than 24 actions intended to promote LGBT+ equality.

These include executive orders to implement the Supreme Court’s Bostock decision, which protected LGBT+ employees from discrimination, across the federal government. There have been statements of support for the Equality Act, the most significant civil rights legislation for LGBT+ people, which was recently passed by the House and is awaiting action in the Senate. 

The ban on transgender military service has been reversed and there have been remarks from the White House briefing room podium, as Press Secretary Jen Psaki affirms what should be obvious: “Trans rights are human rights.”

All of this is a complete 180 from the previous administration and its 181+ attacks against LGBT+ people. But it is far from a done deal for LGBT+ equality and acceptance.

Those opposed to LGBT+ Americans’ rights are exploiting every opportunity to attack, now shamefully using trans youth as scapegoats. Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville tried, and thankfully failed, to hold up critical COVID-19 relief to millions of Americans with an amendment targeting trans kids who want to play sports.

Tuberville’s amendment was similar to bills in 25 states proposed to “protect girls’ sports.” Fact: Trans athletes are not a threat to sports.

Trans athletes have been participating for years in high school sport in 16 states, college sport since 2011 and the Olympics since 2004. Several professional and recreational leagues, including USA Gymnastics, U.S. Soccer, and the National Women’s Hockey League all have policies allowing trans participation in sports.

Meanwhile, more than 500 college student athletes are urging the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which governs college sport, to follow its own guidance to not host events in states that exclude trans athletes.

Lawmakers pushing these bills recently acknowledged they could not cite a single instance of trans inclusion being an issue in their states. Moreover, states with inclusive policies actually have more girls participating in sports than states with bans.

These attacks aren’t really about sports. They’re part of a decades-long effort from a handful of anti-LGBT+ groups who have repeatedly tried and failed with other bans – from using the restroom to getting married.

At least 300,000 same-sex couples and counting have married since the Supreme Court decision more than five years ago, with no negative impact on straight marriages or society.

What’s new, unacceptable and appalling is the targeting of trans youth. Trans kids are already at higher risk of bullying, harassment and violence.

Research shows 40% of transgender and nonbinary youth reported being physically threatened or harmed because of their gender identity. Meanwhile, 22% of trans women perceived as trans in school were harassed to the point they had to leave school because of it.

Those proposing to “protect girls” must include trans girls in that goal, not exclude and criminalize them for being themselves.

At the halfway mark to 100 days, LGBT+ people are still waiting to be fully included. We urge everyone in Washington and in all fifty states to hold the powerful and those with platforms accountable to the truth about our lives and to the American promise of equality and justice for all. We are counting on you.

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