President Joe Biden on Wednesday issued the first presidential proclamation recognizing Transgender Day of Visibility.
The day is dedicated to celebrating transgender people and bringing awareness to the discrimination and violence they face everyday.
In his proclamation, Biden said Trans Day of Visibility recognizes the generations of activism by transgender and nonbinary people.
“Their trailblazing work has given countless transgender individuals the bravery to live openly and authentically,” Biden wrote. “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.”
Despite progress for lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer Americans, such as marriage equality, Biden said trans people “still face systemic barriers to freedom and equality,” such as higher rates of violence, harassment and discrimination.
Nearly 1 in 3 trans people have experienced homelessness, Biden wrote, and they also face discrimination in employment, housing, health care and public accommodations.
“The crisis of violence against transgender women, especially transgender women of color, is a stain on our Nation’s conscience,” Biden said. Forty-four transgender people were killed in the United States last year, a record; 23 of them were Black trans women.
Biden said his administration has already started implementing new policies to protect trans people, such as the executive order he issued on the first day of his presidency to expand discrimination protections for LGBTQ people under federal laws such as the Affordable Housing Act.
He also mentioned “the first openly transgender American to be confirmed by the United States Senate” — Rachel Levine, the assistant secretary for health — and “patriotic transgender service members, who are once again able to proudly and openly serve their country” — a reference to his executive order undoing former President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military.
But he also called on Congress to pass the Equality Act, a sweeping bill that would grant LGBTQ people protections from discrimination in employment, housing, education, credit, jury service and more.
“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,” Biden wrote. “It will serve as a lasting legacy to the bravery and fortitude of the LGBTQ+ movement.”
Trump did not recognize either Trans Day of Remembrance or Visibility, and for three of his four years as president, he also did not recognize or proclaim June LGBTQ Pride Month as Obama did throughout the eight years of his presidency.
In June 2019, Trump recognized Pride Month for the first time in a series of tweets, writing, “My Administration has launched a global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality and invite all nations to join us in this effort!”