Biden/Harris Inauguration Brings Hope for LGBTQI+ Sport Community

January 20, 2021 (New York, NY) Updated Jan 21 9:02am ETToday, Athlete Ally celebrates the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris as a time of hope after four years of misinformation, blatant bigotry and systemic violence against our most vulnerable Americans. Vice President Harris is our first ever woman Vice President, and the first Black and South Asian woman to become Vice President. Biden and Harris have promised a sweeping plan to address LGBTQ+ equality, including protections for transgender student athletes who have been continually under attack by Trump and his former Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos. 

Since Trump’s inauguration four years ago, GLAAD’s Trump Accountability Project has recorded more than 180 anti-LGBTQ statements and actions by the Trump administration and those in his circle. Many of these specifically target LGBTQ+ youth athletes and their right to be safe, welcomed and included in the sport they love. This includes efforts to pressure schools to ban trans athletes from participation in sports, to withdraw federal funds from states that allow transgender athlete participation and to support the country’s most invasive, restrictive and discriminatory anti-trans athlete bill, Idaho’s House Bill 500

Today, Biden issued an executive order affirming the Supreme Court decision on Bostock v. Clayton County, which states that LGBTQ people are protected across federal agencies from discrimination at work – including in restrooms, locker rooms, sports, or dress codes – or in housing or health care. The order also highlights the need to address intersectional discrimination, specifically that affecting Black trans Americans. The order does not lay out specific rights or legal standards, which will need to be made clear through future guidances. 

He also issued a number of executive orders addressing COVID-19 and its economic impact, reversing the discriminatory Muslim travel ban, supporting DREAMers, and addressing climate change and racial justice. 

Biden plans to reinstate the Obama-Biden guidance revoked by the Trump-Pence Administration, which will restore transgender students’ access to sports, bathrooms, and locker rooms in accordance with their gender identity. Biden’s Department of Education is also expected to issue guidances on two legal battles about transgender athletes — the Connecticut lawsuit targeting trans athletes, and Idaho’s HB500 — reversing the Trump Administration’s discriminatory positioning. 

“States that like Idaho attempt to bar trans girls from girls sports, regardless of age of transition, medical intervention or anything else, with a new federal administration, will now be risking lawsuits by the federal government, Justice Department intervention and the loss of federal funding,” Chase Strangio, the American Civil Liberties Union’s deputy director for transgender justice, told PBS. 

“Today’s inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the US’s President and Vice President marks a moment of hope for LGBTQI+ athletes and those that fight alongside them for equality,” said Anne Lieberman, Director of Policy and Programs at Athlete Ally. “No child should have to fight every day to simply be respected as a human being. For the past four years, the Trump Administration terrorized marginalized youth, especially Black Transgender girls, perpetuated bigotry, and inflamed division for kids who only want to play sports with their peers. 

Harm cannot be simply erased, but having progressive leadership who understand the barriers to inclusion faced by LGBTQI+ athletes and are working proactively to address them is monumental. We look forward to working with the Biden Administration to promoting equality and inclusion for LGBTQI+ athletes at all levels of sport.”

Photo: Bloomberg via Getty Images