Biden’s LGBTQ Plan Aims to Return to the Advances Made Under Obama

That will be no small feat.

On Thursday night, former Vice President Joe Biden laid out his plans for advancing LGBTQ equality if elected president. The 17-page pitch is as much a plan for the future as it is a summary of everything that President Trump has rolled back.

It also serves as a reminder that it was President Obama and Biden who championed those gains for queer Americans. On Thursday, Biden vowed to reinstate pro-LGBTQ policies unraveled by Trump.

“Joe Biden believes that every human being should be treated with respect and dignity and be able to live without fear no matter who they are or who they love,” the plan starts out.

Many of Biden’s goals are expected: reversing Trump’s transgender military ban, supporting LGBTQ asylum-seekers, restoring Obama’s executive order prohibiting discrimination by federal contractors, appointing LGBTQ judges and officials, reinstating protections for transgender people in federally-funded homeless shelters, and reaffirming that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects LGBTQ people when it comes to employment discrimination.

But the platform also promises that a Biden administration will go beyond gains made under Obama. It notes that the Obama-Biden State Department led the way by updating its gender-change policies for passports.

“As President, Biden will build on this action to ensure all transgender individuals have access to identification documents that accurately reflect their gender identity,” the policy pitch reads. “Biden believes every transgender or non-binary person should have the option of changing their gender marker to ‘M,’ ‘F,’ or ‘X’ on government identifications, passports, and other documentation.”

The U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado has repeatedly ruled that the State Department must issue gender-neutral passports, a judgment the Trump administration continues to fight.

Biden also vows to implement policy within his first 100 days to curb violence against transgender women of color, insuring that trans homicides are fully investigated and updating FBI data collection to include LGBTQ categories. He proposes stemming the tide of violence by tackling employment and housing discrimination laws, which place many trans people at an increased risk of danger.

He also says he will work to increase safety for LGBTQ people behind bars, reinstating guidance in the federal Transgender Offender Manual, rolled back by Trump last year. Biden plans enforce the Prison Rape Elimination Act with regards to transgender people, which says trans people must be placed on a case-by-case basis and not simply as their sex assigned at birth.

He promises that on his first day in office, he will restore transgender students protections rolled back by Trump. He also vows to fight against LGBTQ youth homelessness and suicidality, ban conversion therapy, nix discriminatory blood bans, and increase access to health care. In all, the plan amounts to one of the more ambitious policy proposals released by a Democratic presidential contender. It comes as Elizabeth Warren, widely praised for her extensive LGBTQ platform, exits the race.

Biden is the last presidential candidate to put out an LGBTQ plan, and advocates say he needs to make a strong case to queer voters to secure the nomination.

LGBTQ voters are expected to make up a substantial portion of the electorate. HRC estimates that there are 11 million LGBTQ voters and 57 million “equality voters,” or people who vote with LGBTQ rights in mind. On Tuesday, NBC News reported that 10% of Super Tuesday voters were queer.

Queer people make up just 4.5% of the overall population, according to a Gallup Poll.

LGBTQ people heavily favored Bernie Sanders on Super Tuesday, according to NBC. Still, the Vermont senator has released one of the shortest LGBTQ platforms of any 2020 contender. (NewNowNext has invited the Sanders campaign to elaborate on his plans but has not yet received a response.)

Kate Sosin is an award-winning, trans-identified news and investigative reporter.