Politics

Here are 85 ways Joe Biden can help LGBTQ people without going through Congress

Joe Biden
Joe BidenPhoto: Shutterstock

For the last four years, the Trump administration has used the power of the executive branch to chip away at protections for LGBTQ people created in previous administrations.

Now an advocacy group has compiled a list of what the Biden administration can do to restore and expand protections for LGBTQ people without going through Congress.

Related: Here are 194 reasons why you should vote for Joe Biden

HRC has published a “Blueprint for Positive Change 2020” that includes 85 policy recommendations for the incoming Biden administration.

The recommendations include reversing Donald Trump’s transgender military ban, applying the reasoning in the Supreme Court’s Bostock v. Clayton County decision (that discrimination on the “basis of sex” includes anti-LGBTQ discrimination) across all federal agencies, and ending the gay blood ban. None of the proposed changes would require Biden administration officials to go through Congress or the courts to implement.

Applying the reasoning behind the Bostock decision would reinstate discrimination protections put in place by the Obama administration that were removed by the Trump administration, such as Departments of Education and Justice guidance that banned discrimination against transgender students.

Trump’s “Departments of Education and Justice eliminated Obama-era guidance clarifying that schools must treat transgender students consistent with their identity,” the blueprint says, referring to when Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions removed transgender student protections.

“This encourages school officials to permit harassment of transgender students, deny access to facilities consistent with gender identity, and refuse to use correct names and pronouns — all inflicting untold emotional harm.”

“These are steps that the Biden-Harris administration can take affirmatively and administratively to protect LGBTQ people and really not only put us back in positions that we were in before the Trump administration, but advance us forward toward equality,” HRC president Alphonso David told the Washington Blade.

He said that the Biden/Harris transition team has already been provided a copy of the blueprint and their reaction has been “positive.”

“They have been very hospitable, very open to receiving the blueprints, and very accommodating in discussing any concerns or questions that may arise as we go through the process,” he said.

The document also calls for the Department of Housing and Urban Development to restore the Equal Access Rule, which HUD Secretary Ben Carson removed this past summer to allow federally-funded homeless shelters to refuse to help transgender people more easily. The HUD, under Carson, even issued advice to homeless shelters on how to spot transgender women in order to refuse to help them.

HRC’s Blueprint also calls for the Federal Trade Commission to “implement industry-wide regulations prohibiting the false
and misleading advertising, marketing, and other business practices of any individual or organization that provides conversion therapy.”

People who promise to change others’ sexual orientations or gender identities – even though the practice has been widely discredited by mental health and medical organizations – would face sanctions for accepting money in exchange for a fake service.

Other policy suggestions in the Blueprint include more diverse judicial and administration appointments, increased data collection on LGBTQ people in various areas of government operations, and a call for non-binary gender markers on U.S. passports.

David said that while the Biden administration would have the power to implement the changes, some of them could take time because of federal law that defines the process for changing rules in executive departments – laws that the Trump administration was often accused of flouting.

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