President Biden Issues Proclamation on Transgender Day of Visibility

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday March 31, 2021
Originally published on March 31, 2021

President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden  (Source:AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Today, President Joe Biden issued "A Proclamation on Transgender Day of Visibility, 2021," and becomes the first occupant of the White House to do so, NBC reports.

In fact, Biden's proclamation is a welcome move after the last four years, a time period in which the administration of ex-President Donald Trump never failed to express contempt for the transgender community.

As NBC notes, Transgender Day of Visibility "is dedicated to celebrating transgender people and bringing awareness to the discrimination and violence they face everyday."

In his proclamation, President Biden acknowledges transgender and nonbinary people, writing, "Their trailblazing work has given countless transgender individuals the bravery to live openly and authentically. 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."

The President also says that despite progress that has been made for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer segments of the community, transgender people still face harassment, violence, discrimination, homelessness, and — the President says more broadly — "systemic barriers to freedom and equality."

"The crisis of violence against transgender women, especially transgender women of color, is a stain on our Nation's conscience," Biden said. According to Human Rights Campaign, a record forty-four transgender people — 23 of whom were Black transgender women — were killed in the United States in 2020.

In response, the Biden administration is implementing new policies aimed at protecting transgender Americans — which includes the Executive Order expanding non-discrimination protections the President signed on his first day in office. The President also acknowledged "patriotic transgender service members, who are once again able to proudly and openly serve their country," taking a swipe at his predecessor's ban.

President Biden also mentioned Dr. Rachel Levine, the current Assistant Secretary for Health, an openly transgender woman confirmed by the Senate last week. Of course, cultural transphobia was mirrored by conservative members of the Senate during Levine's confirmation hearing, riddled with dog-whistling and fear-mongering — ultimately proving that activists fighting transphobia have their work cut out for them.

The President also called on Congress to pass the Equality Act, a greater expansion of rights and protections for the LGBTQ community where employment, housing, education, credit, jury duty and more is concerned. "To more fully protect the civil rights of transgender Americans, we must pass the Equality Act and provide long overdue Federal civil rights protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity," President Biden wrote. "It will serve as a lasting legacy to the bravery and fortitude of the LGBTQ+ movement."

Trump failed to recognized both Transgender Day of Visibility and each November's Day of Remembrance, the latter of which memorializes transgender people who have been killed. Despite more broadly claiming he would be "so good" for the LGBTQ community, Trump only once recognized Pride Month, in June 2019.

President Barack Obama recognized November's Transgender Day of Remembrance from 2012-2014.

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.

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