During the 2020 general election season so far, LGBTQ+ issues have barely been mentioned by the presidential campaigns, with the subject notably missing from the first presidential debate and the vice presidential debate. But this week, former vice president Joe Biden took aim at Donald Trump for his regressive policies regarding the LGBTQ+ community, and in particular, his attacks on the rights of transgender people.
At an event timed to Coming Out Day hosted by the LGBTQ+ streaming platform Revry, Biden said that Trump has operated against the community’s best interests and decried the administration’s discriminatory tactics.
“For four years Donald Trump has tried to roll back to protections for the LGBT community: denying access to health care, denying transgender Americans a chance to serve our country, letting adoption agencies and homeless shelters and other public services discriminate, [and] turning a blind eye to the epidemic of violence against transgender women of color,” he said.
“Folks, the White House should never be a source of opposition or fear or oppression,” Biden added. “It should be a source of hope and moral courage and unification.”
The remarks were made just days after 2020 marked an unfortunate milestone as the deadliest year on record for violence against trans and gender non-conforming people, with nearly three dozen known incidents of lives lost due to hate violence.
In recent weeks, 33-year-old interior decorator Felycya Harris, a Black transgender woman, was found dead at a park in Augusta, Georgia. Officials have yet to identify a suspect in the murder. And on October 11, Sara Blackwood was fatally shot in Indianapolis, Indiana while walking home from her shift at a Long John Silver’s. She was taken to the hospital under critical condition and eventually succumbed to her injuries.
Friends of Blackwood told Planet Transgender that she was a shy trans woman who loved anime and spent very little time on social media.
In addition to failing to call attention to these continued atrocities, the Trump administration has been an enemy of trans rights over the past three and a half four years. Trump has banned transgender people from serving in the military, his Department of Education has relentlessly dismantled rules protecting transgender students, and his Department of Housing and Urban Development has changed rules so that homeless shelters are allowed to turn away transgender people seeking refuge and a warm place to sleep.
According to GLAAD’s Trump Accountability Project, the administration has targeted LGBTQ+ people in at least 181 different policy moves since Trump took office in January 2017.
In contrast, the Biden-Harris LGBTQ+ platform includes support for the Equality Act, reversing the ban on transgender military service, reinstating protections for LGBTQ+ people experiencing homelessness, and ensuring that trans students have the right to use facilities corresponding with their gender identity.
The platform also includes various policies aimed at addressing hate violence against trans women, including the trans women of color disproportionately affected by the epidemic. Biden’s plan calls for directing federal resources to help prevent anti-trans violence, as well as the passage of the LGBTQ+ Essential Data Act to collect data about the factors that drive it.
Biden also intends to update the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports Supplementary Homicide Reports to include sexual orientation and gender identity, so that law enforcement has a better ability to measure the prevalence of hate violence against LGBTQ+ people.
“As president, I promise you I’m going to draw on all the best of us, not the worst,” Biden said at QueerX Live!, which was hosted in Los Angeles at a drive-in and live-streamed online. “I’ll be an ally to the light, not the darkness. This is a time of real peril, but it’s also a time of extraordinary possibilities.”
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