By Donald Judd and Paul LeBlanc, CNN
The Biden administration is marking the International Transgender Day of Visibility on Thursday with a series of measures in support of transgender Americans as they face efforts to curb their rights across the country.
The administration will announce a slew of actions aimed at supporting the mental health of transgender children, removing barriers to entry for government services for trans Americans and improving data representation for transgender people, a White House official told CNN.
“Transgender people are some of the bravest Americans I know, and our Nation and the world are stronger, more vibrant, and more prosperous because of them. To transgender Americans of all ages, I want you to know that you are so brave. You belong. I have your back,” Biden said in a presidential proclamation Wednesday evening.
International Transgender Day of Visibility aims to celebrate the achievements of transgender rights activists and to increase awareness of ongoing challenges transgender and gender-nonconforming people face.
The administration on Thursday will announce the option for US citizens to select “X” when identifying their gender on US passport applications, allowing transgender and non-binary Americans to identify themselves as they choose.
The administration is expected to partner with airlines, the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security to add “X” gender markers to their systems, according an administration fact sheet shared with CNN.
The Social Security Administration will also remove the requirement that transgender people show proof of identity or doctor’s notes to update their gender information starting in 2022, and new steps from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) will allow trans individuals to indicate their gender identity — removing barriers to self-identification they may face in the employment and student loan process.
The administration will announce new steps to ensure equality in data, including $10 million in funding to research best practices for the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.
Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education and The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will release new materials aimed at addressing challenges transgender youth may face in schools and in mental health care.
“On this Transgender Day of Visibility, we honor transgender people who are fighting for freedom, equality, dignity, and respect,” Biden said in his proclamation Wednesday. “We also celebrate the parents, teachers, coaches, doctors, and other allies who affirm the identities of their transgender children and help these young people reach their potential.”
Transgender Day of Visibility, or TDOV, was founded in 2009 by Rachel Crandall, a Michigan-based transgender activist and the executive director of Transgender Michigan. It was started as a day of awareness to celebrate the successes of transgender and gender-nonconforming people and is an important day for the LGBTQ community.
While the Transgender Day of Remembrance is held every year on November 20 to memorialize the transgender people who have lost their lives as a result of anti-transgender violence, TDOV is a day dedicated to honor and empower the lives of transgender and nonbinary people.
To mark the day, the White House has a series of events planned, including a visit from “Jeopardy!” champion Amy Schneider, the quiz show’s first transgender winner, who will discuss transgender visibility in a conversation with second gentleman Doug Emhoff.
The second gentleman will also host a conversation with transgender youth and advocates from throughout the country alongside Assistant Secretary for Health Rachel Levine. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona will travel to Orlando, Florida, to discuss the state’s controversial legislation that opponents have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law with LGBTQ students.
The Department of Health and Human Services will also fly a transgender pride flag to mark the day — the first time in history a federal agency will do so.
The administration’s efforts come against the backdrop of a larger movement by conservative lawmakers to impose restrictions on the lives of transgender youth in the US.
This month, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona signed two bills into law targeting transgender youth in the state, including one that restricts access to gender-affirming health care for minors, while a controversial order in Texas sought to investigate gender-affirming care of minors as “child abuse.”
“In the past year, hundreds of anti-transgender bills in States were proposed across America, most of them targeting transgender kids. The onslaught has continued this year. These bills are wrong,” Biden’s proclamation said.
“Efforts to criminalize supportive medical care for transgender kids, to ban transgender children from playing sports, and to outlaw discussing LGBTQI+ people in schools undermine their humanity and corrode our Nation’s values.”
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