February 22, 2024

FACT SHEET: White House Honors Transgender Day of Visibility

FACT SHEET: White House Honors Transgender Day of Visibility

Today, in honor of Transgender Day of Visibility, the Biden-Harris Administration is uplifting transgender communities—and especially transgender kids and their families—by celebrating their resilience in the face of hateful anti-transgender laws being advanced across the country. Since President Biden’s first day in office, the Administration has taken historic steps to advance equality, dignity, and safety for transgender Americans, and he is the first President in history to discuss the importance of expanding equality and combating attacks on the rights of transgender Americans in every State of the Union or joint session of Congress address. While transgender Americans have an unwavering champion in the President, conservative politicians have advanced hundreds of anti-transgender laws in states across the country so far this year, putting the fundamental rights and freedoms of trans Americans at risk. As President Biden has said, transgender Americans are some of the bravest people he knows, but nobody should have to be brave to be themselves.

Over half of transgender youth say they have seriously considered suicide in the last year because of the discrimination and rejection they face. In the face of these challenges, research shows that, when transgender youth are affirmed and supported, they thrive. Today, to hear directly about the joys, hopes, and challenges that transgender children are experiencing, the White House will host a Roundtable on Affirming Transgender Kids. Transgender kids and their parents shared their experiences living in states that have attacked their rights, discussed how these laws have impacted their mental health, and highlighted how parents are protecting their children.

Today, the Biden Administration is announcing additional steps to support transgender Americans:

  • Issuing a landmark report on ways to support and affirm LGBTQI+ youth, especially transgender youth. Today, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is releasing a new report providing the latest scientific research on supporting the mental health of LGBTQI+ youth. With the release of today’s report, SAMHSA is providing new resources to parents, teachers, and mental health providers to help them use evidence-based practices to affirm and support transgender and LGBTQI+ youth and their families. SAMHSA finds that:
    • There is conclusive scientific evidence that affirming a transgender or LGBTQI+ child’s identity is vital to protecting their mental health.
    • When transgender children have access to affirming environments, at home and at school, that are free from discrimination, rejection, and bullying, they are resilient and can thrive. When transgender children can access gender-affirming care – which includes counseling and mental health supports – their wellbeing improves.
    • In spite of the overwhelming scientific evidence that affirming an LGBTQI+ child is in their best interest, LGBTQI+ children – especially transgender children – face a nationwide mental health crisis because of the harassment, rejection, bullying, and discrimination they face. LGBTQI+ youth are at significantly increased risk of suicide when they face rejection and trauma.
    • State-level policies that stigmatize transgender children, for example by denying them access to medically necessary health care or banning schools from using LGBTQI+ inclusive curriculum, contribute to worse mental health outcomes for children and put them at increased risk of bullying and attempted suicide.
    • There is a clear consensus view among mental health experts that attempts to suppress or change a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity – often referred to as so-called “conversion therapy” – are harmful, not supported by credible evidence, and should never be practiced.
  • Issuing guidance on gender identity inclusion for public servants. The Federal government most effectively delivers for the American people when our public servants draw from the diversity of the communities they serve. Today, the Office of Personnel Management released an update to guidance on gender inclusion in the federal workplace to help ensure agencies fully follow existing federal policies and antidiscrimination laws, and to help agencies adopt inclusive practices to foster a welcoming and supportive workplace for applicants and employees of all gender identities across the Federal government. 

Today’s announcements build on the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic work to advance equality for transgender Americans since taking office, including:

Supporting transgender kids and their parents, and responding to state attacks on their rights. As the President has said to transgender kids at each of his State of the Union addresses, he is standing up for transgender kids and their families by:

  • Signing a historic Executive Order to advance equality for LGBTQI+ people, especially children and families. President Biden signed a historic Executive Order on Advancing Equality LGBTQI+ Individuals, establishing that it is the Administration’s policy to defend the rights and safety of LGBTQI+ individuals. In the Executive Order, the President directs relevant agencies to: address the dangerous and discredited practice of so-called “conversion therapy”; end disparities that LGBTQI+ children and parents face in the child welfare and foster care system; ensure that federal benefits programs are equitably accessible to LGBTQI+ households; address the overrepresentation of LGBTQI+ youth and households among those experiencing homelessness; and increase federal support for programs that offer family counseling and support to reduce the risk of family rejection of LGBTQI+ youth.
  • Intervening legally when states violate the rights of transgender youth and their families. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed multiple statements of interest and amicus briefs supporting litigation against state laws that restrict the rights of transgender youth. For example, DOJ is challenging an Alabama law that denies necessary medical care to transgender youth based solely on who they are. DOJ also filed statements of interest in support of litigation challenging laws in Arkansas and West Virginia that ban transgender children from accessing necessary health care and playing on sports teams, respectively, as unlawful. DOJ also filed amicus briefs supporting the rights of transgender individuals in federal courts of appeals cases involving matters in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, and Indiana.  In addition, DOJ reaffirmed that transgender youth in all states have federal constitutional and statutory protections, including in access to gender-affirming health care.
  • Expanding mental health resources for transgender youth. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) launched a pilot program to add dedicated services for LGBTQI+ youth to the national 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, the nationwide suicide prevention and crisis hotline. The pilot helps LGBTQI+ youth, including transgender youth, experiencing a behavioral health crisis to connect with a counselor specifically focused on meeting the needs of LGBTQI+ youth and young adults.
  • Clarifying that LGBTQI+ youth are entitled to support and affirmation in the child welfare system. In response to at least one state launching child abuse investigations into the loving families of transgender children, President Biden condemned these investigations as callous government overreach that threatens families. In addition, the Department of Health and Human Services released guidance to state child welfare agencies through an Information Memorandum. This memorandum makes clear that states cannot weaponize their child welfare systems against loving families, and should instead use their child welfare systems to advance safety and support for LGBTQI+ youth, which importantly can include access to gender-affirming care. Finally, HHS worked with partners to launch a web portal of resources for child welfare personnel to support families of children who identify as LGBTQI+.
  • Supporting transgender students in our nation’s schools. President Biden signed an Executive Order recommitting the Federal Government to fully abide by federal laws that guarantee educational environments free from sex discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The Department of Education has affirmed that federal civil rights laws protect all students, including transgender and other LGBTQI+ students, from discrimination, and reaffirmed its commitment to vigorously enforcing those laws. The Department of Justice, Department of Education, and Department of Health and Human Services issued a joint message for transgender students about their rights.

Strengthening civil rights protections. The Biden-Harris Administration has strengthened civil rights protections for transgender Americans by:

  • Directing agencies to strengthen LGBTQI+ rights. Within hours of taking office, President Biden signed an Executive Order establishing that it is the official policy of the Biden-Harris Administration to prevent and combat discrimination against LGBTQI+ individuals. As a result of that Executive Order, federal agencies  committed to enforcing civil rights protections for LGBTQI+ Americans in federally funded housing, health care, education, employment, credit and lending, nutrition, and criminal justice programs.
  • Signing the Respect for Marriage Act. President Biden championed and signed the Respect for Marriage Act into law, requiring that same-sex and interracial marriages be recognized as legal in every state in the nation.
  • Fighting for passage of the Equality Act. President Biden continues to call on Congress to pass the Equality Act, legislation which will confirm long overdue explicit federal civil rights protections to LGBTQI+ Americans and their families.

Ensuring transgender Americans can access accurate IDs and vital government services. The Biden-Harris Administration is working to ensure that transgender Americans have equal access to important government services by:

  • Offering U.S. passports with a gender-neutral marker. U.S. citizens can now select an “X” as their gender marker on U.S. passports, providing accurate identification for all Americans regardless of their gender identity, and supporting transgender and non-binary Americans who live in states with restrictive ID laws.
  • Improving the travel experience for transgender people. The Department of Homeland Security implemented several important reforms to improve safety, privacy, and dignity for transgender travelers in U.S. airports.
  • Ensuring transgender Americans can access their retirement savings. The Social Security Administration removed the requirement that transgender people show proof of identity, such as doctor’s notes, in order to update their gender information in their social security record, adopting a policy of self-attestation of gender.
  • Helping nonbinary workers who file employment discrimination complaints. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) implemented changes to make it easier for non-binary workers to accurately identify their gender identity when filing a charge of workplace discrimination.

Supporting transgender service members and veterans. President Biden has restored and strengthened protections for transgender service members and veterans by:

  • Reversing the discriminatory ban on transgender servicemembers. In his first week in office, President Biden reversed the ban on transgender servicemembers serving openly in the Armed Forces, enabling all qualified Americans to proudly serve their country in uniform.
  • Supporting transgender veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) launched an agency-wide review of its policies and practices to ensure that transgender veterans do not face barriers in VA programs because of their gender identity or expression. The VA intends to remove restrictions that prevent transgender veterans from accessing gender-affirming care.
  • Ending restrictions for service members living with HIV. The Department of Defense updated its policy on service members living with HIV, ending the long-time ban on their ability to deploy and commission.

Addressing the crisis of homelessness among transgender Americans. The Biden-Harris Administration is working to ensure that all people, regardless of gender identity, can access safe and affordable housing by:

  • Enforcing fair housing protections that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, including gender identity. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) clarified that it would administer and enforce the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, including gender identity and sexual orientation. HUD is actively enforcing the Fair Housing Act. For example, HUD announced that it entered into a Consent Order with a housing owner and property manager to resolve allegations of gender identity discrimination made by a transgender tenant.
  • Promoting safe and equal access to housing and shelter for transgender people.  HUD’s Equal Access Rule requires equal access to HUD housing programs – including HUD-funded homeless shelters, housing providers and housing subject to HUD-insured mortgages – regardless of a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. HUD has released materials to help people know their rights, and help housing and shelter providers ensure that transgender and gender non-conforming people are able to safely access shelter and housing.

Advancing health equity and expanding access to gender-affirming health care. The Biden-Harris Administration is advancing health equity for transgender Americans by:

  • Protecting transgender patients from health care discrimination. The Department of Health and Human Services is working to ensure that section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act—which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex—is interpreted and enforced in a way that protects LGBTQI+ Americans from discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. The Department is working to finalize implementing regulations to codify these protections.
  • Bolstering access to gender-affirming care. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved Colorado’s efforts to enhance access to comprehensive gender-affirming care in the state’s essential health benefit benchmark plan under the Affordable Care Act. The Health Resources and Services Administration released a letter encouraging Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program service providers to provide access to gender-affirming care and treatment services to transgender and gender diverse individuals with HIV.
  • Combatting HIV among transgender and gender diverse communities. The White House Office of National AIDS Policy launched a revised National HIV/AIDS Strategy and includes transgender and gender diverse communities as a priority population in the federal government’s strategy to end the HIV epidemic. And the Health Resources and Services Administration released a letter encouraging Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program service providers to provide access to gender affirming care and treatment services to transgender and gender diverse individuals with HIV.
  • Partnering with transgender communities to end the mpox outbreak. To end the mpox outbreak, the White House National Mpox Response Team partnered with transgender-led organizations to improve access to services and vaccines for transgender and other gender diverse communities. The Administration also utilized flexibilities in HIV treatment and prevention, sexual health, mental health, and housing programs that increased access to mpox treatment and prevention for transgender people where they seek care and services.
  • Ensuring transgender patients can access birth control and other reproductive health care, including cancer screenings and treatment for HIV and other STIs. The Department of Health and Human Services strengthened the Title X family planning program by issuing new rules that requires family planning projects to provide inclusive care to LGBTQI+ persons, and prohibits discrimination against any client based on their sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, sex characteristics, or marital status.
  • Providing health resources for transgender youth and their parents. The Department of Health and Human Services has issued new resources to support the health of transgender youth, including by providing a resource guide on gender-affirming care for youth and launching a new website that offers resources for transgender and LGBTQI+ youth, their parents, and providers.

Addressing anti-transgender violence. The Biden-Harris Administration is working to end the crisis of violence against transgender Americans – which disproportionately impacts transgender women and girls of color – by:

  • Establishing a White House-led interagency working group on anti-transgender violence. The White House established the first Interagency Working Group on Safety, Opportunity, and Inclusion for Transgender and Gender Diverse Individuals, which released a roadmap highlighting 45 key actions the Biden-Harris Administration is taking to address the root causes of anti-transgender violence, discrimination, and denial of economic opportunity.
  • Increasing services for LGBTQI+ survivors of domestic violence. The President championed and signed into law the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which increases services specifically for LGBTQ+ survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.
  • Department of Justice civil rights enforcement actions.  In addition to the Alabama litigation reference above, the Department of Justice announced that it was launching a statewide civil investigation into conditions of confinement of prisoners held in Georgia’s prisons, including an investigation of the prisons’ efforts to protect transgender and intersex prisoners from sexual abuse by other prisoners and staff.
  • Ensuring non-discrimination protections in community safety programs. The Department of Justice announced new steps to ensure that prohibitions against sex discrimination contained in key community safety programs, including the Safe Streets Act, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, and the Victims of Crime Act also protect transgender individuals from discrimination based on their gender identity.
  • Strengthening protections for transgender individuals who are incarcerated. The Bureau of Prisons revised its manual on serving transgender offenders, improving access to gender-affirming care and access to facility placements that align with an inmate’s gender identity.
  • Addressing online harassment and abuse against transgender people. President Biden established a White House Task Force to Address Online Harassment and Abuse to coordinate a federal response to address the online threats and harms that disproportionately impact women, girls, and LGBTQI+ people – including LGBTQI+ youth.
  • Advancing safety and justice for transgender and Two-Spirit Indigenous people. President Biden signed an Executive Order to address the crisis of Missing or Murdered Indigenous People, including LGBTQI+ and Two-Spirit Native Americans.
  • Honoring transgender Americans lost to violence. President Biden established the National Pulse Memorial to honor the lives lost, including transgender Americans, at the Pulse nightclub shooting and to raise awareness about the impact of gun violence on LGBTQI+ communities. The Administration also hosted a first ever vigil at the White House to honor the lives of transgender and gender diverse people lost to anti-trans violence.

Advancing transgender equality at home and around the world. The Biden-Harris Administration has made LGBTQI+ equality a cornerstone of the U.S. government’s foreign policy priorities by:

  • Advancing transgender equality in U.S. foreign policy and foreign assistance. President Biden signed a Presidential Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons Around the World, directing agencies engaged abroad to ensure that United States diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBTQI+ people. 
  • Ensuring that the U.S. global response to gender-based violence is trans-inclusive. The Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development released the 2022 U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally, directing U.S. foreign policy and assistance to address the factors that increase the risks of gender-based violence and undermine access to services and safety, and to address the unique ways that LGBTQI+ people, and especially transgender people, are at risk of gender-based violence.
  • Releasing a USAID Gender Policy that is inclusive of transgender and gender diverse communities.  USAID released its 2023 Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Policy, which provides the vision for USAID’s work to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment around the world.  The policy recognizes women and girls in all their diversity and that transgender women, gender diverse individuals, and the entire LGBTQI+ community experience multiple forms of discrimination.
  • Supporting trans-led organizations and individuals.  USAID launched the Alliance for Global Equality to respond to the economic devastation from COVID-19 and build the capacity of social leaders to engage in democratic processes.  Twenty-five percent of all grants issued by the Alliance will go to trans- and intersex-led organizations. 
  • Hosting the UN Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity for an Official Visit to the United States. The United States hosted the UN Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity for an official visit to the United States to address discrimination and violence against the LGBTQI+ community. 

Supporting transgender public servants. The Biden-Harris Administration is ensuring that transgender Americans are leaders at all levels of our government by:

  • Supporting a federal workplace where all employees’ gender identities and expressions are affirmed and respected without fear of discrimination, retribution or disadvantage. In June 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order directing historic new steps to ensure the Federal government is a model employer for all Americans and individuals of all gender identities, including transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary employees.  
  • Appointing historic transgender leaders. The Biden-Harris Administration includes barrier-breaking transgender leaders, including the two first openly transgender people to ever be confirmed by the U.S. Senate: Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Rachel Levine, and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness Shawn Skelly.

Ensuring transgender Americans are counted in federal data. The Biden-Harris Administration is improving the collection of data on gender identity and sexual orientation – while respecting the privacy and safety of transgender Americans – by:

  • Releasing a roadmap to improve LGBTQI+ data collection. The Administration released the first-ever Federal Evidence Agenda on LGBTQI+ Equity, a roadmap that federal agencies will use to ensure they are collecting the data and evidence they need to improve the lives of transgender and other LGBTQI+ Americans.
  • Adding gender identity questions to vital surveys. The Administration has increased funding to add sexual orientation and gender identity questions to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, one of our nation’s largest and most important surveys of American households.

Promoting visibility and inclusion for transgender Americans. President Biden became the first U.S. President to issue a proclamation commemorating Transgender Day of Visibility. The White House has consistently uplifted the voices and stories of transgender Americans. The White House Press Secretary hosted a first-of-its-kind national conversation on equality with transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary Americans, and the White House released a toolkit with best practices for advancing inclusion, opportunity, and safety for transgender Americans. In 2022, Ashton Mota, a teenager and advocate for transgender rights, introduced President Biden at the White House’s Pride celebration.

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Official news published at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2023/03/31/fact-sheet-white-house-honors-transgender-day-of-visibility/