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Biden calls anti-trans violence an 'epidemic that needs national leadership'

The Democratic presidential candidate criticized the Trump administration’s transgender policies, saying this violence doesn’t “exist within a vacuum.”
Image: Joe Biden Campaigns For President In Michigan
Joe Biden addresses a drive-in campaign rally at the Michigan State Fairgrounds Oct. 16, 2020 in Novi, Mich.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden called the violence against transgender and gender-nonconforming people an “epidemic that needs national leadership” and accused the Trump administration of fueling “the flames of transphobia.”

“These deaths don’t exist within a vacuum,” Biden said in a statement released Friday. “Dehumanizing government actions and rhetoric, as well as a failure to address risk factors like domestic and intimate partner violence, underemployment and unemployment and poverty, housing insecurity and health disparities, put this community at risk.”

The Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group, said at least 33 transgender and gender-nonconforming people have been killed as a result of violence so far this year, with most of the victims Black and Latinx trans women. That is the highest number since the organization began tracking this data in 2013, and there are still more than two months left in the year.

“From banning transgender patriots from serving their country, to attempting to limit transgender people’s access to health care in the midst of a pandemic, to literally erasing the word transgender from government websites, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have fueled the flames of transphobia in our nation while refusing to acknowledge the epidemic of violence,” the former vice president stated.

The White House did not immediately respond to NBC News' request for comment.

Biden pledged to take a different approach when it comes to transgender people, saying he would, if elected, prioritize the fight against anti-transgender violence and discrimination.

“My administration will enact the Equality Act to end legal discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, expand economic opportunities for LGBTQ+ people, reform our treatment of transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals in our criminal justice system, ensure access to accurate identification documents, and improve government data collection to better track violence against the transgender community,” he said.

Trump opposes the Equality Act, which would add protections for LGBTQ people to existing civil rights laws, and his administration has overseen the rollback of protections for transgender inmates in federal prisons.

Biden also pledged to fight for the transgender community if elected in November during Thursday’s town hall on ABC, in which he fielded a question from the mother of an 8-year-old transgender girl. The woman expressed concern over the Trump administration’s actions regarding the community and asked what Biden would do to ensure LGBTQ people were protected.

“I will flat out just change the law, eliminate those executive orders,” Biden said. “There should be zero discrimination.”

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