White House warns states cruelly targeting trans rights that they’re breaking the law

White House warns states they're breaking the law with anti-trans bills

White House press secretary Jen Psaki has warned that states passing anti-trans bills could be breaking federal law.

During a press briefing on Friday (5 March), Psaki responded to a question from the Washington Blade addressing the fact that many state legislatures are advancing bills that would ban trans youth from playing in school sports and access transition-related care.

Two such bills banning trans kids in sports have advanced in Mississippi and South Dakota, and the governors of both states are expected to sign the orders into law.

Psaki was asked if president Joe Biden had expressed any “concern about these bills in the state legislatures”. She answered that she was not aware if Biden had been in discussions directly with state legislatures. Psaki reiterated Biden “believes trans rights are human rights and that no one should be discriminated on the basis of sex”.

“Not only is this the law of the land, it’s his own deeply held belief,” Psaki added.

“The anti-discrimination executive order the president signed is focused on children being able to learn without worrying about whether they will be discriminated against, and this means not being denied access to the restroom, the locker room or school sports.”

She explained that Biden signing the executive order “sends a pretty clear message to state legislators, to lawmakers about where he stands on this issue and what his position is as president”.

At least 35 bills have been introduced across the US which seek to ban trans students from playing sports teams that align with their gender identity, according to The Hill. A further 25 bills would prohibit providing gender-affirming medical care to trans youth.

One such bill in Alabama would bar medical professionals from administering hormones or puberty blockers to trans youth and prohibit gender-affirming surgeries for trans minors. It would also make it a Class C felony for medical professionals to provide gender-affirming care to trans minors, which would result in a 10-year prison sentence or a $15,000 fine in Alabama.

Jennifer Klein, executive director of the White House’s newly established gender policy council, said in a further press briefing on Monday (8 March) that the Biden-Harris administration will be aggressively protecting the rights of those experiencing discrimination, including trans and LGBT+ people.

Klein said the council has the “tools that we have” – “which are federal laws, and the bully pulpit, and clarity about our policy and values” – to work on a “series of equity issues”. She said the council will be working closely with the White House, the domestic policy council and the national security council to address equality issues on local or state levels.

Psaki, who was also present at the press briefing, reiterated that Biden believes transgender rights are human rights, and she said the president “wants to see kids have the opportunity to play sports and participate in a range of activities”.