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Biden marks transgender visibility day with new policies, GOP criticism

"Jeopardy!" champion Amy Schneider visits the White House briefing room as part of her tour for Transgender Day of Visibility. (Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post)
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President Biden is marking Transgender Day of Visibility by celebrating the contributions that transgender Americans have made to the country while criticizing Republican-led efforts to pass legislation that the White House says is “dangerous” to transgender people.

“To everyone celebrating Transgender Day of Visibility, I want you to know that your president sees you,” he said in a recorded message. “Our entire administration sees you for who you are — made in the image of God deserving of dignity, respect and support.”

“But we know it’s hard when there are those out there that don’t see you and don’t respect you,” Biden added.

State Department issues first passport with ‘X’ gender marker

In addition to promoting policies benefiting the community, Biden’s White House hosted Amy Schneider, the most successful transgender woman to compete on “Jeopardy!,” as part of the celebrations. Just months after her record-breaking run on the show, Schneider met with Doug Emhoff, husband of Vice President Harris, to discuss the importance of advancing transgender visibility and equality.

She told reporters that the uptick in legislation prohibiting transgender youths from participating in school sports and banning teachers from discussing LGBTQ issues is “really scary.”

“Some of them in particular that are denying medical services to trans youth [are] really sad to me, and it’s really frightening,” Schneider said. But hope is not lost, she added.

“I think that this backlash right now is temporary,” she added. “It’s not going to be too long before these sorts of bills are seen as a thing of the past.”

The administration’s spotlight on these issues comes as several Republican-led states have passed laws and bills that erode protections for transgender people.

The White House announced Thursday that it would take steps to improve travel for transgender people.

Starting April 11, all U.S. citizens will be allowed to select an “X” as their gender marker on their passport applications. This move is aimed at expanding access to accurate identification documents for transgender and nonbinary people.

And the Transportation Security Administration will soon update its scanners with more accurate technology that will reduce the need for the pat-downs and additional screenings that are often required for many transgender travelers.

The White House announced March 31 that all U.S. citizens will be allowed select an "X" as their gender on their U.S. passport applications from April 11. (Video: Reuters)

The Biden administration hopes to expand the “X” gender marker option to airlines and federal travel programs and to make it easier for transgender people to change their gender information in Social Security Administration records.

Andrea Hong Marra, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, one of the groups meeting with the White House, called the Biden administration “the most active in history” in supporting the transgender and nonbinary community.

“Our friends in the administration have held the door open to ensure we always know we matter and to translate that respect into policies that protect our rights,” she said.

Much of the White House’s attention will focus on transgender kids, some of whom will join their parents at the White House to meet Emhoff and Rachel Levine, the assistant secretary for health and the first openly transgender person to hold an office requiring Senate confirmation.

Biden said attempts to ban transgender youths from sports, outlaw conversations about the LGBTQ community in classrooms and criminalize medical care for transgender youths undermine America’s values.

Last month, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) called on “licensed professionals” along with “members of the general public” to report the parents of transgender youths to state authorities if their children appear to be receiving gender-affirming medical care.

Arizona’s Republican governor, Doug Ducey, signed a bill Wednesday that will prevent transgender girls from playing on girls sports teams. The Republican also signed legislation outlawing gender confirmation surgery for any person younger than 18.

Biden called these types of bills “wrong.”

“Studies have shown that these political attacks are damaging to the mental health and well-being of transgender youth, putting children and their families at greater risk of bullying and discrimination,” Biden said.

Anne Branigin contributed to this report.