US President Joe Biden has issued the first formal presidential proclamation on Wednesday recognizing March 31st as Transgender Day of Visibility.
The day is now dedicated to celebrating transgender people and bringing awareness to the discrimination and violence they face every day.
In his presidential proclamation today, Biden said Trans Day of Visibility recognizes the generations of activism by transgender and non binary people.
At a time when states are advancing and enacting into law measures that would essentially bar transgender girls from participating in school sports and restrict access to transition-related care for transgender youth, Biden signals support for transgender people by commending their “struggle, activism and courage” and including fellow athletes and students in a list of allies.
“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,” Biden writes.
But Biden also recognizes long-standing issues facing the transgender community, calling ongoing violence against transgender people “a stain on our nation’s conscience.”
“In spite of our progress in advancing civil rights for LGBTQ+ Americans, too many transgender people — adults and youth alike — still face systemic barriers to freedom and equality,” Biden writes. “Transgender Americans of all ages face high rates of violence, harassment, and discrimination.”
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.
Biden 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.”
According to a study this month from the Williams Institute at University of California, Los Angeles, transgender people are more than four times more likely than cisgender people to experience violent victimization, including rape, sexual assault, and aggravated or simple assault.
Although Biden is the first U.S. president to issue a presidential proclamation for the Transgender Day of Visibility, other U.S. presidents have announced support for the LGBTQ community by formally proclaiming June as Pride Month. Bill Clinton issued the first LGBTQ Pride proclamation, a practice former President Barack Obama renewed in each of his eight years in office after George W. Bush ignored the annual celebration. Donald Trump became the first Republican U.S. president to recognize Pride Month with a tweet in 2017, although he never issued a formal proclamation.