Joe Biden tells trans Americans in his State of the Union address: “I have your back!”

Mar 7, 2024; Washington, DC, USA; President Joe Biden smiles before delivering the State of the Union address to Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington March 7, 2024. Left is Vice President Kalama Harris, right is Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-La) Mandatory Credit: Josh Morgan-USA TODAY
President Joe Biden smiles before delivering the 2024 State of the Union. Photo: Josh Morgan-USA TODAY via IMAGN

President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address told transgender Americans, “I have your back.” He also spoke against book-banning and “erasing history,” and told Congress to pass the Equality Act, legislation that would enshrine LGBTQ+ civil rights into federal law.

“Stop denying another core value of America our diversity across American life,” Biden said, about midway through his speech. “Banning books — it’s wrong! Instead of erasing history, let’s make history! I want to protect other fundamental rights! Pass the Equality Act, and my message to transgender Americans: I have your back!”

 “To all the transgender Americans watching at home – especially the young people – you are so brave. I want you to know your president has your back,” he added.

His speech starkly contrasted the American “core values” of “honesty, decency, dignity, [and] equality” with that of “resentment, revenge, and retribution” held by “some other people my age,” a veiled reference to former President Donald Trump (whom he never mentioned by name).

“I know the American story,” Biden said. “Again and again, I’ve seen the contest between competing forces in the battle for the soul of our nation: between those who want to pull America back to the past and those who want to move America into the future.”

“Not since President Lincoln and the Civil War have freedom and democracy been under assault at home as they are today,” he noted. Then, after mentioning Russian President Vladimir Putin’s continued invasion of Ukraine — something Putin has justified with anti-LGBTQ+ bigotry — Biden then mentioned the January 6, 2001 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol carried out by Trump’s followers.

“Insurrectionists stormed this very Capitol and placed a dagger at the throat of American democracy,” Biden said. “We all saw with our own eyes these insurrectionists were not patriots. They had come to stop the peaceful transfer of power and to overturn the will of the people. “

“January 6th and the lies about the 2020 election, and the plots to steal the election, posed the gravest threat to our democracy since the Civil War,” Biden continued. “But they failed. America stood strong and democracy prevailed.”

“But we must be honest,” he added, “the threat remains and democracy must be defended. My predecessor and some of you here [in Congress] seek to bury the truth of January 6th. I will not do that. This is a moment to speak the truth and bury the lies. And here’s the simplest truth: You can’t love your country only when you win.”

Acknowledging public doubts about his ability to do his job as an 81-year-old, Biden said, “In my career, I’ve been told I’m too young and I’m too old. Whether young or old, I’ve always known what endures, our North Star: The very idea of America, that we are all created equal and deserve to be treated equally throughout our lives.” 

“We’ve never fully lived up to that idea, but we’ve never walked away from it either,” he said. “And I won’t walk away from it now. I’m optimistic.”

“My fellow Americans, the issue facing our nation isn’t how old we are, it’s how old our ideas are,” he continued. “Hate, anger, revenge, retribution are among the oldest of ideas. But you can’t lead America with ancient ideas that only take us back.”

“To lead America, the land of possibilities, you need a vision for the future of what America can and should be,” he added. “Tonight you’ve heard mine. “

“Above all, I see a future for all Americans,” he concluded. “I see a country for all Americans. And I will always be a president for all Americans. Because I believe in America. I believe in you the American people….So let’s build that future together. Let’s remember who we are…. There is nothing beyond our capacity when we act together.”

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