President Joe Biden delivers an address at the 153rd National Memorial Day Observance at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia on 31 May 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
President Joe Biden issued his first formal proclamation celebrating Pride Month, calling for action on the “tragic levels of violence” against trans people.
Biden opened his Pride Month proclamation by remembering the Stonewall riots in 1969. He said the “liberation movement” still lives on as a “call to action” to inspire Americans to live up to the “nation’s promise of equality, liberty and justice for all”.
“Pride is a time to recall the trials of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) community has endured and to rejoice in the triumphs of trailblazing individuals who have bravely fought – and continue to fight – for full equality,” Biden said.
“Pride is both a jubilant communicable celebration of visibility and a personal celebration of self-worth and dignity.”
He added the LGBT+ community in the US has “achieved remarkable progress since Stonewall”. This includes the right to marriage equality and workplace protections for LGBT+ individuals “in every state and territory”. Biden’s proclamation added that “nearly 14 per cent” of his 1,500 “agency appointees identify as LGBTQ+”, and he is “particularly honoured” by the service of trailblazing LGBT+ appointees Pete Buttigieg and Dr Rachel Levine.
But despite these levels of progress, Joe Biden said there are “many states in which LGBTQ+ individuals still lack protections for fundamental rights and dignity in hospitals, schools, public accommodations and other spaces”. He then added that the US “continues to witness a tragic spike in violence against transgender women of colour”.
“LGBTQ+ individuals – especially youth who defy sex or gender norms – face bullying and harassment in educational settings and are at a disproportionate risk of self-harm and death by suicide,” Biden said. “Some states have chosen to actively target transgender youth through discriminatory bills that defy our nation’s values of inclusivity and freedom for all.”
Biden said violence and discrimination against the LGBT+ community “demands our continued focus and diligence”, and he is “committed to defending the rights of all LGBTQ+ individuals” as president.
This is the first presidential proclamation honouring Pride Month after the practice was abandoned under president Donald Trump’s administration.
Trump largely ignored the worldwide celebration of LGBT+ people during his time as president barring one instance in 2019. The same year Trump’s administration denied US embassies the right to fly rainbow flags in honour of Pride Month unless they were granted permission by the State Department.
But the Biden-Harris administration has actively worked to become more LGBT-inclusive. In April, the administration gave blanket approval to US embassies and diplomatic outposts to fly LGBT+ Pride flags on the same flagpole as the US flag.
In the first days of his administration, Joe Biden also reversed Trump’s hateful trans military ban. He also put forward the ‘most substantive LGBT+ executive order’ which directed all federal agencies to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Biden was also the first sitting US president to formally mark International Trans Day of Visibility on 31 March, where he called on Americans to “join in the fight for all transgender people”.