Joe Biden’s LGBT+ agenda gets off to a roaring start with overwhelming majority backing landmark executive order

Americans holding a pride flag and trans flag in the background during a protest.

An overwhelming majority of Americans support president Joe Biden‘s landmark executive order against LGBT+ discrimination.

On his first day in office (20 January), Biden signed what has been dubbed the “most substantive LGBT+ executive order in history”, strengthening non-discrimination protections for LGBT+ federal employees.

New polling found that 83 per cent of Americans supported the order, which expands upon the Supreme Court’s July 2020 ruling which prohibits workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 

The survey, conducted by national polling firm Ipsos, found this was the most popular executive order signed by Biden in his first week in office. Only 16 per cent of the 504 adults polled disapproved of the executive order, while two per cent of respondents had no response.

This made it more popular than any of Biden’s other major week one executive orders, including his rescinding of the Muslim travel ban (backed by 55 per cent), his rejoining of the World Health Organisation (70 per cent support) and his recommitment to the Paris climate agreement (65 per cent).

Biden’s LGBT+ executive order reinforced Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and requires the federal government not discriminate against LGBT+ staff members based on sexual orientation or gender identity. 

Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said it is the “most substantive, wide-ranging executive order concerning sexual orientation and gender identity ever issued by a United States president”.

“Millions of Americans can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that their president and their government believe discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is not only intolerable but illegal,” David said.

While the detailed implementation of the 2020 Supreme Court ruling will take time, David said this executive order will “begin to immediately change the lives of the millions of LGBTQ people seeking to be treated equally under the law”. 

The order also states that trans girls and women should be able to play on sports teams which align with their gender identity. This has been the subject of several bills introduced in state legislatures. 

Soon after the order was signed, transphobic trolls came out of the woodwork to claim that “Biden erased women” – as a hashtag of the same name alleged. In a tweet, the anti-trans Women’s Liberation Front called the decision a “disaster for women and girls in the US” and seemingly threatened to challenge the action in court. 

Anti-trans journalist Abigail Shrier said the order “unilaterally eviscerates women’s sports” and that “a new glass ceiling was just placed over girls”.

According to the LGBT+ advocacy group Freedom for All Americans, nine states are weighing proposals to ban trans-student-athletes from competing in sports. These include Montana, North Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina and New Hampshire.