President-elect Joe Biden began his victory speech Saturday night by thanking “the broadest and most diverse coalition in history.”
“Democrats, Republicans, independents,” Biden said, “young, old, urban, suburban, rural, gay, straight, transgender.”
Applause erupted throughout the drive-in rally in Wilmington, Del.
It was the first victory address to ever mention the transgender community.
Biden has acknowledged the unique struggles that transgender people face throughout his campaign, specifically calling out the disproportionately high death rate for transgender women of color. He has promised to reverse President Trump’s policies that threaten the rights of LGBTQ populations.
“I will flat out just change the law, eliminate those executive orders. There should be zero discrimination,” Biden said at a town hall in October, responding to a woman with a transgender child.
The Trump administration has instituted multiple policies that target the transgender community. Trump tweeted in July 2017 that “transgender individuals” would not be permitted “to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military,” reversing an Obama administration policy that allowed transgender military members to serve openly. Some are speculating that Biden could reverse this ban in one of his first executive orders.
More recently, the Trump administration narrowed the definition of sex discrimination in health care, so transgender people are no longer protected against discrimination from doctors, hospitals or insurance companies.
On Saturday night, LGBTQ activists celebrated Biden — and the commitments he has made to their communities. It was powerful just to hear him say the word “transgender,” many said. In 2008, Barack Obama became the first president to say “gay” in a presidential victory address, signaling that gay rights would be a priority throughout his term.
The excitement signals just how bad things were for the transgender community under Trump, some said.
It was just one word that “might seem small to most.”
But tonight, many said, it was exactly what they needed to hear.