President Joe Biden is using International Transgender Day of Visibility on Friday to sharply criticize acts of violence and discrimination against Americans who identify as trans and nonbinary, zeroing in on the growing number of Republican-led bills targeting trans youth.
In a presidential proclamation on Thursday and a subsequent statement on Friday, Biden acknowledged “a wave of discriminatory state laws” aimed at trans Americans, squarely blaming “MAGA extremists” for “advancing hundreds of hateful and extreme state laws that target transgender kids and their families.”
“Let me be clear: These attacks are un-American and must end,” Biden said in his statement issued on Friday. “The bullying, discrimination, and political attacks that trans kids face have exacerbated our national mental health crisis.”
The statement continued, “I want every member of the trans community to know that we see you. You’re each made in the image of God, and deserve love, dignity, and respect. You make America stronger, and we’re with you.”
The president’s comments came as an unprecedented number of measures have been introduced in state legislatures this year seeking to restrict LGBTQ rights. The proposed bills cover a wide range of policies, including some that seek to restrict transgender people from competing on sports teams or using bathrooms that align with their gender identity. Youth and medical care is a growing legislative focus.
At least 385 bills targeting LGBTQ rights and queer life have been introduced around the country through March 7, according to data compiled by the American Civil Liberties Union. The number of bills has already surpassed last year’s total of 306, according to ACLU data shared with CNN.
Earlier this month, Biden – who in 2021 became the first US president to ever issue a presidential proclamation to mark International Transgender Day of Visibility – called efforts to restrict transgender rights in Florida as “close to sinful.”
“It just, to me, is, I dunno, it’s cruel,” he added.
In a statement on Friday, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona acknowledged the hostility trans youth face, asserting that, “This hostility is what follows when politicians are among those attempting to bully transgender students and their families, and use state laws to limit who they can be in our school communities.”
“It’s unacceptable. It goes against what we stand for as a nation,” he added. “Schools must be welcoming, affirming, and nurturing places for teaching and learning.”
In his most recent presidential proclamation, Biden wrote that transgender Americans “shape our Nation’s soul – proudly serving in the military, curing deadly diseases, holding elected office, running thriving businesses, fighting for justice, raising families, and much more.”
“As kids, they deserve what every child deserves: the chance to learn in safe and supportive schools, to develop meaningful friendships, and to live openly and honestly,” he continued. “As adults, they deserve the same rights enjoyed by every American, including equal access to health care, housing, and jobs and the chance to age with grace as senior citizens.”
Transgender Day of Visibility was founded in 2009 by Rachel Crandall, a Michigan-based transgender activist and the executive director of Transgender Michigan. It was started as a day of awareness to celebrate the successes of transgender and gender-nonconforming people and is an important day for the LGBTQ community.
CNN’s Donald Judd, Sam Fossum and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.