Former Vice President Joe Biden reassured a mother in a nationally televised town hall event Thursday that he would protect her transgender daughter’s rights if he is elected president,
Mieke Haeck, an audience member at the ABC News Town Hall in Philadelphia, said she had two daughters, and that the younger one, who is 8 years old, is transgender. She noted the Trump administration’s restrictive positions on transgender rights in areas like education and the military.
“I promise you. There is no reason to suggest that there should be any right denied your [transgender] daughter ... that your other daughter has a right to be and do,” Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, said. “None. Zero.”
Biden’s answer touched on one of the ways most significant ways that, if elected, his Education Department could diverge from the Trump administration’s: civil rights enforcement.
The former vice president did not directly mention the transgender student guidance issued by the Obama administration that U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos later rescinded as one of her first official acts under Trump. That guidance said that the protections in Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education, would protect the rights of transgender students to use the restrooms, locker rooms, pronouns, and names that align with their gender identity.
DeVos said she would leave those issues to the states, arguing that the Obama administration had exceeded its authority by issuing the guidance. But the U.S. Department of Justice has since weighed in on a Connecticut lawsuit, arguing that it violates the rights of cisgender girls to allow transgender girls to compete against them in school athletics leagues.
Biden’s platform says that he would reinstate that guidance “on day one” and that he would “direct his Department of Education to vigorously enforce and investigate violations of transgender students’ civil rights.”
He spoke more generally Thursday, assuring the mother that he would “flat out change the law, eliminate those executive orders,” presumably speaking about Trump’s order prohibiting transgender Americans from serving in the military. He also expressed concern about the murders of transgender women of color.
Biden credited his late son, Beau, the former attorney general of Delaware, for helping promote transgender rights in his state. In doing so, Biden used language that is considered offensive to transgender people by saying his son was inspired by a staff member who “was a man who became a woman.”
The Biden town hall took place as President Donald Trump spoke in a similar event on NBC. Neither candidate answered substantive questions about K-12 education.
Photo: Former Vice President Joe Biden --Getty Images