7 times Elizabeth Warren redefined what it means for a politician to be an LGBT+ ally
Elizabeth Warren is a lot of things. A spirited ally. A former law professor. A person who could have become the president of the United States.
On Thursday, Warren, 70, bowed out of the Democratic presidential nomination race. Wrapping up a bid to unseat US president Donald Trump typified by tireless trans activism, biting anti-billionaire policies and, of course, a lot of piles of paper.
As the race to spar with Trump essentially falls to two men, Warren’s campaign is not one to be forgotten.
She launched herself into a race typically packed with lithe grey hair and big bank accounts. Proving that through policy plans, urgent anti-corruption pledges and funding a campaign without fund-raisers, a credible campaign can be made.
And, vitally, she showed how allies should and can go above and beyond to empower, fight on behalf of and show their sincere love for the LGBT+ community.
Her policies centred LGBT+ lives, vowing to pass the Equality Act, preventing the weaponisation of religion to harm queer people, blanket banning conversion therapy, ensure identification documents are trans and non-binary-inclusive and require all schools teach LGBT-inclusive education.
She had a plan for everything, after all.
Here are a handful of moments, in an unflinching 13-month campaign, where Warren set the standard of allyship.
1. When she asked a nine-year-old trans kid to pick her education secretary.
Lawmakers are surrounded by a bottomless pool of balding advisors. But Warren sought counsel on who to hire as her education secretary not from a Brooks Brothers suit mannequin, but from the next generation of trans people.
She told supporters at a campaign pitstop in Iowa that she would ask Jacob, a nine-year-old trans boy, to vet her picks for the cabinet role.
“A young trans person asked [me] about a welcoming community,” she said, “I’m going to have a secretary of education that this young trans person interviews on my behalf, and only if this person believes that our secretary or education nominee is absolutely committed to creating a welcoming environment, a safe environment, and a full educational curriculum for everyone will that person actually be advanced to be secretary of education.”
2. Suggesting her vice president may be non-binary.
I want to tell you exactly the kind of vice president I want: Someone who will be in this fight alongside me for your families. Someone who feels this fight passionately—and who brings his, her, or their own energy to get it done. #CNNTownHall
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) February 21, 2020
It was a small choice of words that took her just seconds to say.
When describing the kind of person she’s scoping for to be her second-in-command, she said: “Someone who feels this fight passionately, and brings his, her or their own energy to get it done.”
It was a single word that implied that her vice president could be a trans, non-binary or gender non-conforming person who uses they/them pronouns. Meaning an incredible amount to a community so often sidelined and voiceless in political spaces.
3. Using her platform to highlight violence against trans women of colour.
Mounting rates of murder and the rescinding of trans rights across the states have raised a spectre of violence against the trans community, one of the most marginalised and vulnerable sections of society.
Whether in campaign rallies or televised debates, the Massachusetts senator vigorously fought to ensure that the epidemic of brutality remains in the burning spotlight.
Part of her avalanche of detailed policy proposals, she promised to stop the US from imprisoning trans women in men’s prisons as well as promising accessible healthcare to people of all gender identities and sexualities. She was one also of the only candidates to discuss transphobic violence during the debates and actively condemned transphobic laws.
4. The time she thanked a gay man for donating to her campaign. He gave the $3 he could.
A young man in Ohio shared one similarity with Warren; a vision for a White House and an America wiped of corruption.
The 19-year-old mini-mart worker lived paycheque to paycheque, so chipped in the $3 he could to the Warren campaign; one that did not rely on fund-raisers, unlike rivals.
But one day, his phone started to buzz. Warren had rung him to personally thank the teen for his contribution to a campaign that railed against big money and Wall Street.
5. Elizabeth Warren vowed to read the names of every trans women slain in the White House rose garden every year.
More than just newspaper ink or headlines. The spate of violence that has pelted the trans community in 2019 was unprecedented.
But many people do not know or refuse to acknowledge the scale of this cruelty. Warren, however, was not one of them.
Reflecting on this, in December 2019, she pledged that, if elected president, “I will go to the Rose Garden once every year to read the names of transgender women, or people of colour, who have been killed in the past year.”
6. The time a tearful queer teen hugged Elizabeth Warren and she told her: ‘We’re going to be OK.’
Warren’s playbook was, at times, criticised as cold. Her calculated multi-page plans and flared incitements directed towards people, groups and concepts she deemed contemptible.
Yet, Warren showed time and time again her level of empathy was enviable to her rivals. At one campaign event, a queer teen asked Warren whether she “there was ever a time in your life where somebody you really looked up to maybe didn’t accept you as much and how you dealt with that?”
After explaining her heartfelt answer – one of growth and honesty – she embraced the crying teen and told them: “We’ve got it. We’re going to be OK. You’re going to get through this. You’re going to be good.”
7. When Queer Eye star Johnathan Van Ness absolutely lost it when Elizabeth Warren called him.
Thank you for your support, @jvn! Shoulder to shoulder, we’re going to fight for #MedicareForAll. No one should be able to make a profit off of denying people health care—and together, we’ll win. pic.twitter.com/8aF4Ut55jq
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) September 26, 2019
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Donned in her iconic red buttonless cardigan, Warren tapped her iPhone to ring up Queer Star superstar, Johnathan Van Ness, after he endorsed the candidate.
The hairstylist said he decided to support Warren after losing his HIV medication, meaning that he was forced to pay a steep $3,500 bill to replace them – even though he has health insurance
“I’m glad we’re going to be in this fight together side by side,” Warren said in a video of the exchange. “I love the endorsement and for all the right reasons.”