10 Ways the Biden Administration Can Support LGBTQ People During Week One in Office

LGBTQ people have been under attack from the federal government for the last four years, as have too many other communities. The new Biden administration presents many opportunities for rebuilding and expanding our nation’s commitment to equality for LGBTQ people and our families.

The Movement Advancement Project, along with Center for American Progress, Equality Federation, GLSEN, National Center for Transgender Equality, and SAGE released a list of actions the Biden administration can take immediately after taking office in January to support LGBTQ people and their families. The groups also outlined longer-term priorities and legislative opportunities, including passing the Equality Act.

  1. Create a Federal Plan to Address the Rampant and Increasing Violence Against Transgender People, Especially Black Transgender Women
    The Biden administration should establish a cross-agency task force to address the killings of and violence against transgender people, particularly Black transgender women. This work should include investigating violence and law enforcement’s response as well as violence prevention through addressing improved data collection and hate crimes reporting, discrimination, economic security, safe housing, trauma informed care, and the criminalization of transgender people, and safety concerns for transgender people.
  2. Act Quickly to Protect LGBTQ People from Discrimination
    — Direct all federal agencies to update regulations, guidance, and policies to reflect the June 2020 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Bostock that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity are illegal forms of sex discrimination and to enforce robust sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity protections by all federal agencies.
    — Reinstate questions about sexual orientation and gender identity previously removed from surveys; work to advance sexual orientation and gender identity questions on federal surveys, including those used to enforce civil rights.
    — Review and restore nondiscrimination protections for individuals accessing government programs and benefits across all federal agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services. Assess civil rights enforcement to ensure equitable access for all protected classes, especially in light of previous issued EO 13831 and EO 13798.
  3. Reverse the Ban Transgender People in Military Service
    Require the Department of Defense to return to inclusive policies to ensure nondiscrimination for transgender people. Reverse Department of Defense policies that perpetuate stigmatization of and discrimination against people living with HIV.
  4. Immediately Release People Held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Including Transgender Asylum Seekers People Living with HIV, From Detention Facilities
    Asylum seekers are currently experiencing high risk from COVID, violence, mistreatment, and a lack of medical care. Rescind the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) and orders blocking entrance to the United States and restore humanitarian protections while ensuring that LGBTQ people can access them.
  5. Set Public Health Goals to Achieve the End of the U.S. HIV Epidemic and Elimination Of HIV‐Related Health Disparities By 2025
    This includes ensuring broad and equitable access to effective HIV care and treatment, reducing new HIV cases through evidence-based HIV prevention strategies, addressing social and structural barriers to HIV-related health care, and reestablishing the Office of National AIDS Policy with key experts.
  6. Require That the Federal Bureau of Corrections Return to the Previous Version of the Transgender Offender Manual
    Implement policies in compliance with the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) regarding the placement of transgender and intersex people; immediately end the use of solitary confinement in federal prisons and immigration detention.
  7. Restore the United States’ Leadership on LGBTQ Human Rights and Safety Internationally for LGBTQ People
    Immediately permit embassies abroad to display the Pride flag and restore U.S. leadership in making the world safer for LGBTQ people.
  8. Direct the Department of Justice to Review and Update Agency Positions on Ongoing Litigation
    This includes filings in lower court challenges of the Affordable Care Act, Title IX litigation for transgender students, and others to reflect Bostock and the importance of nondiscrimination protections.
  9. Create an LGBTQ Equity Policy Council
    Include community members, members of the Domestic Policy Council, senior level staff at the Department of Health and Human Services, and other key partners to identify key action steps and engage advocates.
  10. Direct Federal Agencies, Including Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development, to Protect LGBTQ Youth, LGBTQ Elders, Transgender People and All Those Who Access Programs
    Issue clear policies of nondiscrimination for all federal programs, reinstate 2016 guidance on transgender students’ rights pending revision to reflect Bostock and other legal developments, issue new comprehensive guidance on nondiscrimination and privacy rights for LGBTQ students under Title IX, FERPA, the Equal Access Act, and other relevant laws, issue new regulations regarding sexual assault and harassment, update policies to protect LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness and in the child welfare system, work to ban the use of youth conversion therapy, and expanding efforts to protect and promote mental health, including anti-bullying policies and suicide prevention. Examples include 988, schedule to be activated in July 2022, and the current National Suicide Prevention LifeLine (800–273-TALK).
    — The Administration for Community Living (ACL) should strongly and swiftly implement the language found in the 2020 Reauthorization of the Older Americans Act, which requires that state units on aging and area agencies on aging are held accountable for collecting data on the needs of LGBT older people and whether they are meeting those needs, engaging in outreach, and reporting back on those efforts to ACL.

Key Longer‐term Priorities & Legislative Opportunities

The incoming Biden/Harris administration presents additional opportunities to support LGBTQ people. Some of these will require coordination across federal agencies, and others will require Congressional approval.

  • Improve Access to Accurate Identity Documents for Transgender and Nonbinary people
    Work across federal agencies to streamline the processes for obtaining updated social security and passport identification documents. Include a third sex marker for nonbinary people.
  • Ensure Robust Enforcement of Federal Civil Rights Protections
    — Increase federal enforcement of civil rights protections and expand investigations into anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination complaints. Expand civil rights enforcement funding for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice, and individual agency civil rights departments to speed the process and improve enforcement.
    — Include LGBTQ people in affirmative civil rights testing for discrimination, such as proactively calling public services, contracted businesses, shelters, etc., to test for discriminatory policies.
  • Work With Congress to Advance Legislative Priorities
    — Pass the Equality Act, which would update our nation’s civil rights laws to prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in key areas of life.
    — Pass the Do No Harm Act, which would clarify when RFRA can be used and when discrimination should not be permitted.
    — Pass the Every Child Deserves a Family Act to protect LGBTQ youth and families from discrimination in the child welfare system.
    — Pass the GLOBE Act to build a U.S. diplomatic framework to protect LGBTQ people worldwide.
    — Pass the Ruthie & Connie LGBT Elder Americans Act, which would establish LGBT older people as a greatest social need population under the Older Americans Act.
    — Pass the Safe Schools Improvement Act, which will require every school district to develop policies related to bullying and harassment based on a student’s actual or perceived race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion.
    — Ensure that COVID-19 relief legislation includes nondiscrimination provisions and maintenance of equity provision so that LGBTQ people and their families receive assistance.

LGBTQ people across the country and our families should be able to live our lives free from discrimination or violence, and without barriers based on who we are or who we love. By enacting these policy measures the Biden administration can begin to undo some of the harms of the last four years and chart a path forward that is based in equality and fairness for all.

Read the issue brief: 10 Ways President Biden Can Support LGBTQ People

MAP is an independent, nonprofit think tank that provides rigorous research, insight and communications that help speed equality and opportunity for all.

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