SENIOR ONLINE REPORTER
President Biden made the LGBTQ community a priority in his first week of office. He issued an executive order Wednesday that his administration will enforce prohibitions on discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
The order is backed by existing federal law. The Supreme Court held last year that members of the LGBTQ community are protected from discrimination according to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Biden issued several executive orders in his first day in office, many of which reversed actions by former President Trump, like ending the “Muslim ban” and rejoining the Paris Climate Accords. Advocates were happy to see a reversal of Trump’s policies toward the LGBTQ community.
In the order, Biden promised to protect both adults’ right “to earn a living and pursue a vocation” as well as childrens’ rights “to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports.”
Some on Twitter were angered by Biden’s inclusion of access to school sports.
The term “trans-exclusionary radical feminists” has been coined to describe those who believe that the inclusion of trans women into society pose a societal threat to (cis) womanhood. TERFs, for short, have grouped together in communities online, often being forced off of platforms like Reddit for harassment and hate speech.
Some TERFs and conservatives used #BidenErasedWomen, which trended most of the day Thursday, to claim that Biden’s executive order would allow men and boys into female spaces.
The order doesn’t change any laws, rather it reaffirms the Supreme Court decision from last year. However, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the majority that the decision was limited to workplace discrimination and they did not “address bathrooms, locker rooms, or anything else of the kind.”
The Biden administration will protect LGBTQ people from being fired or denied housing because of their identity. However, it doesn’t give the administration the legal authority to change any state’s laws regarding bathrooms, locker rooms or sports.
State’s have different policies regarding trans students competing in high school sports. Nebraska has a lengthy process with a committee to determine whether or not an individual student can participate on a case-by-case basis.
The NCAA has policies allowing athletes to participate as their genders as long as they have undergone hormone therapy for at least one year.
The International Olympic Committee has similar guidelines, but they require trans women to declare their identity as female for a minimum of four years before competing. They also are required to have their testosterone levels tested below a certain threshold. The Olympics in Rio in 2016 were the first games under the new guidelines, but no openly trans athletes were known to have competed.
Biden won’t be able to change any of those existing state policies or any sports leagues’ policies. Activists hope Congress will pass the Equality Act, which was passed by the House in 2019 but not voted on in the Senate. The act would protect LGBTQ people from discrimination beyond just employment, however it still wouldn’t guarantee participation in sports.
Despite the pushback online, the executive order was viewed as overwhelmingly positive, according to an Ispos poll. Biden, whose running mate Kamala Harris became the first female vice president, won 57% of women voters in the 2020 election.