NowThis Presidential Forum: Joe Biden on Transgender Rights

Biden discussed how he is working to advocate for the LGBTQ+ community amid a spike in anti-trans legislation from GOP lawmakers.

A number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced and enacted on the state level in recent months, with many aimed at attacking transgender rights by outlawing gender affirming health care and prohibiting trans kids from playing in youth sports that align with their identity.

In 2018, 19 anti-trans bills were introduced in on the state level across the country, according to a Washington Post analysis of ACLU data. Now, just 4 years later, state legislatures have already introduced 155 bills.

Since taking office, President Joe Biden has signed several executive orders to protect trans rights. These include orders that rolled back the Trump-era ban on transgender military service, combated workplace discrimination policies, and protected transgender youths’ healthcare.

Dylan Mulvaney has publicly been sharing her transition on TikTok with her viral “Days of Girlhood” series. She spoke with Biden at Now This’ Presidential Forum about the right-wing attacks on trans lives and how the administration can better advocate for the trans community.

Mulvaney: This is my 221st day of publicly transitioning.

Biden: God love you.

Mulvaney: Thank you. I am extremely privileged to live in a state that allows me access to the resources I need, and that decision is just between me and my doctors. But many states have lawmakers that feel like they can involve themselves in this very personal process. Do you think states should have a right to ban gender-affirming healthcare?

Biden: I don't think any state or anybody should have the right to do that. As a moral question and as a legal question, I just think it's wrong. You know, I think I was saying before we started that my son, my deceased son, used to be the attorney general of the state of Delaware. He passed the broadest piece of legislation he, as attorney general, was able to convince the legislature and the governor to sign that dealt with all gender-affirming capabilities. I mean, there's a lot of, you know, you sometimes—they try to block you from being able to access certain medicines, being able to access certain procedures, and so on. None of that should be available. I mean, no state should be able to do that, in my view. So I feel very, very strongly that you should have every single solitary right including use of your gender-identity bathrooms in public.

Mulvaney: Thank you. Thank you. And it feels like Republicans have turned trans and non-binary people into this thing to blame society's downfall on in some ways. And this narrative is not only dangerous to our mental health, but also our physical safety. And particularly trans women of color are being murdered at an alarming rate.

Biden: More than any other group of people.

Mulvaney: Thank you. How can democratic leaders be more effective in advocating for us trans people, and our families, and our lives, and our opportunities?

Biden: I'm not being facetious when I say this: being seen with people like you. No, I mean it; I genuinely mean it. People fear what they don't know. They fear what they don't know. And when people realize, individuals realize, ‘Oh, this is what they're telling me to be frightened of, this is the problem.’ I mean, people change their minds. People just don't know enough to know. And it's not because of intellectual capabilities, it's just lack of exposure. And I think that it's really important that we continue to speak out about the basic fundamental rights of all human beings. And the idea that what's going on in some states, I won't get into the politics of it, but in some states, it's just, it's outrageous, and I think it's immoral. The trans part’s not immoral — what they're trying to do to trans persons is immoral.

This transcript has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

For more on the intimate conversations between Biden and young change-makers focused on finding solutions to some of the most critical issues facing their generation, head to the NowThis Presidential Forum homepage.