Joe Biden officially becomes 46th president of the United States. Here’s everything he’s pledged for LGBT+ people
But what has Biden actually promised, and what do those promises mean for the American LGBT+ community?
Passing the Equality Act
The big one. This is a landmark bill which, if passed, would amend the Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexuality and gender identity. The legislation would grant LGBT+ people full protections in employment, housing, education, federal funding, credit, and the jury system.
The Equality Act isn’t new: it was passed by the Democratic-led House of Representatives back in 2019, but got stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate.
It could finally get off the ground now that the Democrats control the Senate, and Biden has promised to make its passage “a top legislative priority” in the coming weeks and months.
Protect LGBT+ families
With the Trump administration giving federal adoption and foster agencies free rein to discriminate against LGBT+ couples, one of Biden’s first acts will be to repeal this.
As president he’s promised ensure families aren’t discriminated against on the basis of sexuality or gender identity, and that child welfare agencies put the interests of children first, including those who are LGBT+.
In addition Biden says he will work with the US state department and other federal agencies to ensure equal treatment of same-sex couples and their children in the application of all federal programs, services, and benefits.
This includes citizenship eligibility requirements and immigration and naturalisation proceedings for LGBT+ people – another area that was targeted by Trump.
Support trans and non-binary people in the workforce
As part of his LGBT+ policy he’s promised to ensure that any federally-funded workforce training programs and resources will focus on and benefit this community.
He will also provide incentives for states and local governments to adopt programs that help prepare transgender and non-binary people for the workforce and encourage entrepreneurship.
Empower federal agencies to be champions for equality
Joe Biden has pledged to nominate and appoint federal officials and judges who represent the diversity of the American people, including the LGBT+ community.
He says he’ll ensure that leaders across the federal agencies are committed to fully enforcing civil rights laws for LGBT+ individuals, and that the agencies charged with enforcing these laws are given the funds they need to fully pursue this obligation.
These agencies include the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and the US Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.
Address anti-LGBT+ bullying in schools
Biden’s made a number of proposals to reduce sexual violence, dating violence, and online harassment among young adults, and all these initiatives will include a focus on LGBT+ students, who report higher rates of sexual assault than other students.
He’s also promised to reinstate laws requiring federally-funded schools to prohibit LGBT+ harassment, and back the passing of the Safe Schools Improvement Act, which requires school districts to develop bullying and harassment policies.
And he’ll work to enact the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act, which will establish a grant program to support campus anti-harassment programs.
Tackle LGBT+ homelessness
As LGBT+ Americans experience disproportionately high rates of homelessness, Trump pushed a devastating law allowing federally-funded homeless shelters to reject trans and gender non-conforming people based on “religious beliefs”.
Biden plans put a stop to this. Through the Equality Act he’ll ensure that no president can ever again single-handedly roll back civil rights protections for LGBT+ people, including in housing and homeless shelters.
Reverse the transgender military ban
As Obama’s vice-president, Joe Biden played a leading role in repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (though to be fair, he also voted for it in the first place).
He’s similarly opposed to Trump’s trans military ban, labelling it “discriminatory and detrimental to society”, and has promised to reverse this policy once he’s in office.
He says he will direct the US department of defence to allow transgender service members to serve openly, receive medical treatment, and be free from discrimination.
Restore the Affordable Care Act
Last year Trump rolled back Obama-era protections for trans people under the Affordable Care Act – a devastating blow to the estimated 1.5 million transgender Americans who relied on it.
Joe Biden aims to repair the damage as part of his plans to build on the Affordable Care Act, which will guarantee non-discrimination protections for the LGBT+ community. He’s promised to ensure LGBT+ individuals have full access to all appropriate healthcare and resources, including gender confirmation surgery.
Plus, his federal health plans will encompass HIV treatment and provide coverage for lifesaving preventative medications like PrEP and PEP.
End HIV/AIDS in the US
In addition to the HIV treatment covered by the Affordable Care Act, Biden has made a number of commitments to tackling HIV/AIDS in the US.
As part of his pledge to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2025, he’ll update and implement the HIV/AIDS strategy first launched by the Obama-Biden Administration.
This strategy promises to “aggressively reduce” new HIV cases, while increasing access to treatment and eliminating inequitable access to services and supports.
He says he’ll fully fund the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, which provides services to individuals with HIV/AIDS, and will increase federal funding for research.
Reinstate protections for transgender students
Biden’s made numerous pledges to support LGBT+ youth, starting with a guarantee that trans students have access to facilities based on their gender identity.
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On his first day in office he says he will reinstate the Obama-Biden guidance revoked by Trump, which will restore trans kids’ access to sports, bathrooms, and locker rooms in accordance with their gender identity.
He will also direct his Department of Education to vigorously enforce and investigate violations of transgender students’ civil rights.
Combat the epidemic of violence against trans women of colour
Joe Biden condemned Trump for “turning a blind eye” to the wave of deadly violence against the trans community, and it’s safe to say he won’t be doing the same.
During his first 100 days in office he’s pledged to direct federal resources towards preventing violence against trans women, particularly trans women of colour.
He will also direct his administration to update the FBI’s crime and homicide reports to include sexuality and gender identity or expression, helping law enforcement to fully measure the extent of crimes against this community.