President Joe Biden said in a tweet early Tuesday: “To transgender Americans across the country — especially the young people who are so brave — I want you to know your President has your back. During Pride Month — and all the time.”
To transgender Americans across the country — especially the young people who are so brave — I want you to know your President has your back.
During Pride Month — and all the time.
— President Biden (@POTUS) June 7, 2021
It’s a reiteration of a line used back in March on Transgender Day of Visibility but many trans activists have responded with derision because Biden hasn’t acknowledged or condemned the slew of anti-trans legislation across many states this year.
Sure ya do buddy pic.twitter.com/H0vpHEMgyK
— Misha B. Barkin’ (@Misha_B_Barkin) June 7, 2021
Yeah but what can he do about those laws if they’re being passed at the state level.
— 𝘊𝘰𝘥𝘺 ☭ (@codyjm17) June 7, 2021
Then please give me healthcare so it won’t cost me thousands of dollars for gender affirming surgery. I had some money set aside but you won’t do anything for student loans so I have to clean up after you on that front too.
— Crowpotkin 🏴 (@AnarchoCorvidae) June 8, 2021
Back in March, in an address to a joint session of Congress Biden said virtually the same thing as he did in the tweet: “To all transgender Americans watching at home, especially the young people, you’re so brave,” Biden said. “I want you to know your president has your back.”
For one mother, Vanessa Nichols, she specifically wanted to see the part where Biden addressed transgender youth, like her 12-year-old son, Dylan.
According to 19th News: Nichols said, “For me, it was this huge — ‘Wow, listen to this, this is the president, this is a leader, this is inclusive,’” she said. “But then after I watched it, I was like, ‘What does that mean? What does that mean that he has our kids’ back?’”
In November 2020, Nichols and Dylan left their home in Florida and moved to Costa Rica after state lawmakers nearly axed gender-affirming care for trans youth.
“With the new legislation that keeps being discussed every year, and because that legislation gets so much media attention, kids talk about it, especially at the middle school age,” Nichols said. “Those things combined just felt very unsafe to me.”
But even as Biden gave that speech, the Florida legislature was reviving and passing a bill barring transgender kids from playing sports. If signed, the bill would be the eighth of its kind in the nation.
So despite the president’s words, Nichols has to face the harsh reality that, to ensure her son’s safety, the United States might never be home again.
Under Biden, the Department of Justice did revoke support for a lawsuit challenging the rights of trans track runners in Connecticut to compete. The Trump administration had supported the lawsuit, which aimed to bar Andraya Yearwood and Terri Miller, both Black trans women, from competition. A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit in April. Strangio acknowledged the constraints on Biden as bills have to face challenges in the courts and the Senate remains divided on the issue of LGBTQ+ equality.
“That said, saying you have trans kids’ backs will ring a little hollow when they are denied health care, kicked off their sports teams, and fleeing the only home states they know,” he wrote.
Sasha Buchert, a senior attorney at Lambda Legal, said the president has used what leverage he has when it comes to stopping anti-transgender bills.
“At the end of the day, it’s not necessarily even about what the administration can do, or about what any elected officials can do, because elected officials and the federal administration, they’re not going to save us,” she said. “What does save us is ourselves in our community.”