President Joe Biden reiterated his support for transgender Americans and the broader LGBTQ+ community Thursday, calling detractors ‘hysterical’ and ‘prejudiced.’
At his joint press conference alongside the U.K.’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Biden was asked about Republican moves to ‘restrict rights and medical care’ of transgender Americans, as well as about the anti-LGBTQ protests that turned violent in California this week.
The questioner, PBS Newshour’s White House correspondent Laura Barrón-López, also told the president she had interviewed the family of a transgender child in Texas and the family was considering not only moving out of the red state – but leaving the U.S. entirely.
‘First of all, maybe quietly when we finish this, you can give me the number of that family and I will call them,’ Biden responded. ‘Let them know that the president and this administration has their back.’
Biden then pointed to his own pro-LGBTQ record of rolling back Trump’s ban on transgender troops and also signing the Respect for Marriage Act – which codified the Obergefell decision after Justice Clarence Thomas suggested it could be reexamined after the Supreme Court did away with Roe v. Wade.
‘It’s wrong that a person can be married in the morning in the United States and fired in the afternoon by their employer because they’re gay,’ Biden said. ‘It’s wrong that the violence and hate crimes targeting LGBTQ people are rising. It’s wrong that extreme officials are pushing hateful bills, targeting transgender children, terrifying families and criminalizing doctors.’
President Joe Biden (right) reiterated his support for the transgender and broader LGBTQ community Thursday during a press conference alongside British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (right)
‘There are our kids,’ the president said. ‘These are our neighbors. It’s cruel and it’s callous. It matters a great deal how we treat everyone in this country.’
‘Our fight is far, far from over because we have some hysterical and, I would argue, prejudiced people who are engaged in all that you see going on around the country,’ the Democrat added.
He said what is happening in some states is an ‘unjustified and ugly’ appeal to fear and called on lawmakers to pass legislation, which has been stalled in Congress, that would protect the civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals.
‘Congress must pass, must pass the Equality Act and send it to my desk,’ Biden said of a legislative measure he had named a top priority during his 2020 campaign.
The president then spoke directly to LGBTQ+ Americans, especially children. ‘You’re loved, you’re heard and this administration has your back and I mean it. We are not relenting one single second to make sure that they’re protected.’
Biden also described new initiatives the administration announced earlier Thursday to protect LGBTQ+ communities from attack, help young people in foster care, suffering with mental health or experiencing homelessness, and to counter book bans, though the effects may be limited.
The White House was supposed to mark Pride month later Thursday night with a Betty Who concert on the South Lawn.
It was scrapped and rescheduled for Saturday earlier Thursday due to Washington, D.C.’s air quality, which has been impacted by smoke funneling into the region from Canadian wildfires.
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer individuals, marked June’s Pride Month by declaring a state of emergency for LGBTQ+ individuals in the United States and releasing a guidebook outlining laws it deems discriminatory in each state.
The campaign said it acted in response to an ‘unprecedented and dangerous’ spike in discriminatory laws sweeping statehouses this year, with more than 525 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced and more than 70 signed into law so far – more than double last year´s number.
A participant holds up a trans flag in a New York City Pride march. Thursday night’s Pride event at the White House was cancelled due to smoke in Washington, D.C. from Canadian wildfires
Kelley Robinson, the campaign’s president, called for a ‘swift and powerful’ response by people in power, including in government, business and education.
‘This is a full-out crisis for our communities that demands a concerted response,’ she said in an interview with The Associated Press. ‘I think this is kind of a national call to action and a call to arms to stand up and fight back.’
Biden announced that the Department of Homeland Security, working with the Justice and Health and Human Services departments, will partner with LGBTQ+ community organizations to provide safety resources and training to help thwart violent attacks.
Separately, HHS and the Department of Housing and Urban Development will provide resources to help LGBTQ+ young people with mental health needs, support in foster care and homelessness.
To confront a spike in book bans, the Department of Education’s civil rights office will appoint a new coordinator to work with schools to address that threat.
The White House said banning books erodes democracy, deprives students of material needed for learning and can contribute to the stigma and isolation that LGBTQ+ youth feel because books about them are often the ones that are prohibited.
Biden has many LGBTQ+ people serving in prominent positions throughout government, such as Karine Jean-Pierre, the first openly gay White House press secretary.
Polls show public support for the rights of people who are gay and lesbian has expanded dramatically over the last two decades, with about 7 in 10 U.S. adults in polling by Gallup saying that same-sex marriages should be legally valid and that gay and lesbian relationships are morally acceptable.
But attitudes toward transgender people are complex: In polls conducted in 2022 by KFF and the Washington Post and by the Pew Research Center, majorities said they support laws prohibiting discrimination against transgender people in areas such as housing, jobs and schools.
At the same time, both polls found that a majority of Americans think that whether someone is a man or a woman is determined by sex assigned at birth.
Many also support restrictive policies aimed at people who are transgender, for example preventing transgender women and girls from participating in sports teams matching their gender identity, along with restrictions on access to certain medical treatments.