President Joe Biden, in his State of the Union address Tuesday, assured the nation’s transgender youth that he will work to pass legislation to better protect LGBTQ Americans and fight against anti-trans bills spreading across Republican states.
The president made the comments in a sweeping address focused on the Russian invasion in Ukraine, the lingering COVID-19 pandemic and serious concerns about the nation’s economy. But he specifically pointed to what he called an “onslaught” of GOP-led legislation targeting trans youth, bills that seek to limit transgender minors’ access to medically necessary health care or keep them from playing on school sports teams.
The best way to protect them, he said, would be for Congress to pass the Equality Act, bipartisan legislation that would prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill has been hailed by civil rights groups.
“For our LGBTQ+ Americans, let’s finally get the bipartisan Equality Act to my desk,” Biden told Congress. “The onslaught of state laws targeting transgender Americans and their families, it’s simply wrong.”
The House voted to pass the Equality Act in February 2021, but it has been held up in the Senate, where it needs 60 votes to pass and overcome a Republican filibuster. Many GOP lawmakers refused to vote for the bill, saying it would infringe on religious rights, even though a majority of Americans support its passage.
Biden had pledged to enact the legislation in his first 100 days in office, but Democrats’ slim 50-50 majority in the Senate has stymied many of his legislative efforts.
The battle over anti-trans legislation has continued this year after a devastating 2021 saw 21 states introduce such laws. In the latest attack on trans youth, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) recently instructed state agencies to investigate families that provide access to medically necessary treatment for their children, saying such action by parents could be classified as “child abuse.”
Civil rights groups have sued over the Republican efforts nationwide, and Biden said the White House would continue to leverage its power to protect vulnerable youth, continuing his long effort to protect transgender rights while in Washington.
“As I said last year, especially to our younger transgender Americans, I’ll always have your back as your president, so you can be yourself and reach your God-given potential,” Biden said Tuesday.