Biden Speech: Issues facing the LGBTQ community made their way into President Joe Biden’s first joint address to Congress Wednesday night, including him speaking specifically to trans youth that have been the subject of anti-trans legislation in more than 30 states.
“To all the transgender Americans watching at home – especially the young people who are so brave – I want you to know that your president has your back,” Biden said. Biden also became the first president to invite a trans individual to a joint session of Congress when First Lady Dr. Jill Biden invited Stella Keating, the first trans teen to testify before the U.S. Senate. Keating attended Biden’s address virtually.
Speaking to NBC News, National Women’s Law Center media manager Gillian Branstetter lauded Biden’s remarks as “a long-overdue recognition by an American president of trans people’s fight for safety, dignity and equality under the law.” But one of the trans youths whose back Biden has, Kai Shappley, wants clarification on what that statement means exactly. “I’m very thankful for this. But, what does having my back mean? Like, if the bills pass in Texas will you keep them from putting my mom in jail,” Shappley tweeted.
The President’s comments come as multiple state legislatures push bills targeting access to gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth, trans girls and women’s participation in sports and other discriminatory measures.
Florida sneaks anti-trans bill through during Biden speech
In fact, as Biden spoke in the House Chamber, the Florida state Senate passed a trans-exclusionary sports bill that many thought was dead last week as an amendment to an unrelated charter school bill. Human Rights Campaign president Alphonso David criticized the bill’s passage.
“Under the guise of an education bill, the Florida House and Senate rushed to pass SB 1028. Ultimately, this bill will not just hurt transgender kids; it will hurt all Floridians because the consequences of this law — economic harm, expensive taxpayer-funded legal battles, and a tarnished reputation — will ripple across the state,” David said in a statement. “Let’s be clear here: transgender children exist and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.”
Biden also brought up the Equality Act, expressing hope that Congress gets the bill to his desk “to protect the rights of LGBTQ Americans.” The bill, which passed the House in 2019, classifies sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Senate is yet to hold a vote on the bill.