Dr. Jill Biden visits a LGBTQ community clinic in just her second day as First Lady

Dr. Jill Biden's official White House portrait
Dr. Jill Biden's official White House portrait Photo: whitehouse.gov

In one of her first official acts as the country’s First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden made a visit to one of the Whitman-Walker Health HIV/AIDS clinics in Washington, D.C.

Whiteman-Walker operates multiple health centers and proudly represents itself as a healthcare expert for the LGBTQ community and those living with HIV/AIDS.

Related: The White House asks people to choose their pronouns now on website contact form

Dr. Biden met with Whitman-Walker Health CEO Naseema Shafi and Kim Thiboldeaux, the CEO of the Cancer Support Community, to discuss “highlight and promote support services for cancer patients and caregivers.”

Cancer is an important matter personally to the Biden family, as Dr. Biden’s stepson and President Joe Biden’s eldest son, Beau, died of brain cancer at 46 in 2015.

Dr. Biden also sought to “hear about the impact of COVID-19 on access to health care, including cancer screenings and prevention efforts” in her visit on January 22. She stopped by the 14th Street NW location in the District’s Logan Circle, just a few miles north of the White House.

Dr. Biden held an open conversation in front of White House pool press with Shafi, Thiboldeaux, and others at the clinic who serve patients with HIV and AIDS. She also ran into patients seeking PrEP or other sexual health services.

She addressed concerns about the accessibility issues that many of Walker-Whitman’s patients, among others, face in trying to set-up or attend televisits. Dr. Biden, who remains an educator, said that she heard similar issues amongst the other educators she sat and talked to within her first full day in the first lady capacity.

“You know we’re in your corner,” she said.

Still, Dr. Biden stressed that the Biden-Harris’s administration priority is still to try and ensure that every American has access to the vaccine, then such problems can be resolved.

Whitman-Walker Health has served Washington D.C. since 1973, and according to their website was rated a LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader by the Human Rights Campaign in 2018. In addition to HIV medical care, they offer community healthcare services, dental care, gender-affirming care, insurance assistance and legal guidance. They also house a pharmacy and prior to the pandemic, allowed walk-ins.

“By prioritizing the foremost LGBTQ community health center in Washington, D.C. as one of her first public visits, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden has highlighted that the health and wellness of our community is a top priority,” President of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Alphonso David said in a statement. He described Whitman-Walker Health as a “crucial” provider.

“From day one, the President and the First Lady’s commitment to taking immediate action to improve the lives of LGBTQ people has been a welcome breath of fresh air,” he added.

LGBTQ activists and politicians, such as Virginia state delegate Danica Roem (D), praised the 14th Street Center specifically. Roem said they enabled her to receive the legal services needed to change her name and deal with other gender-affirming legalities.

Roem also specifically praised Dr. Biden for being “a true champion for making the United States a more inclusive country.”

It also made an immediate stark contrast with Dr. Biden’s predecessor, Melania Trump, who reportedly claimed she wasn’t allowed to celebrate Pride as she wished while serving as First Lady.

Dr. Biden is reportedly the third First Lady to publicly stop by the clinic. Barbara Bush made the first known appearance in 1989, while Hillary Clinton also stopped by as First Lady with Bernadette Chirac, the then-First Lady of France.

After leaving the clinic, Dr. Biden went and surprise-visited National Guard troops that were still deployed to secure Washington, D.C. during the post-Inaugural season.

“The National Guard will always hold a special place in the hearts of all the Bidens,” she told them, noting that Beau Biden had also served in the National Guard.

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