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Joe Biden 'Announcing' His Pronouns Riles up Transphobes but Trans Twitter Dubs it 'Token Gesture'

Image credits: Twitter.

Image credits: Twitter.

In January, President Joe Biden signed a raft of executive actions on his first day in office, including an order tackling discrimination against LGBT+ people, allowing them to now select gender-neutral pronouns when contacting the U.S. government.

In keeping with his bid to widen the rights of the LGBTQIA community, the current President of the United States Joe Biden recently ‘announced’ his pronouns – ‘he/him’. The ‘revelation’ came during a television interview where his pronouns, ‘he/his’ were mentioned along with his name. The move soon became talk of Twitter and many felt that it was an important step toward normalising cis-gender people mentioning their pronouns to normalise trans-pronouns. Not everyone, however, is vibing with it, including trans persons, many of whom felt that the move was a hollow gesture.

The move came after Biden’s signing of a raft of executive actions on his first day in office in January, including an order tackling discrimination against LGBT+ people. The move will allow members of the LGBTQIA community to now select gender-neutral pronouns when contacting the U.S. government. People who identify as non-binary – neither male nor female – can now select the gender-neutral title “Mx” on the White House website’s contact page, which also added a drop-down list of personal pronouns, including “they/them”.

A screenshot of the video showing Biden’s pronouns has been going viral since being shared on Twitter.

But not everyone seemed to be pleased, including members from the LGBTQIA community. Many transpersons and allies felt like dropping his pronouns was just a “token gesture” and did not really help the issues that the community faced.

Biden’s ‘big reveal’ seemed to upset not only members of the trans-community but also received criticism from transphobes.

The new White House website update marks a departure from Donald Trump’s administration, which banned transgender people from enlisting in the military and issued orders emphasising the importance of “biological sex” rather than gender identity. LGBT+ advocates welcomed the new approach.

“On Day One, the Biden administration has taken immediate steps to include trans, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people in the conversation,” Sarah Kate Ellis, head of U.S. LGBT+ advocacy group GLAAD, said in an emailed statement. “Research has shown that recognition and respect of our pronouns can make all the difference for our health and wellbeing – especially when it comes to LGBTQ youth.”

A survey of more than 40,000 LGBT+ 13- to 24-year-olds by youth advocacy group The Trevor Project, found 28% of those who said no one used their chosen pronouns had attempted suicide in the previous year, versus 12% of those who said most people did. On Wednesday, Biden also signed an executive order that said federal agencies must not discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity when implementing existing federal laws that bar discrimination on the basis of sex. That will apply in areas including “education, housing, credit and healthcare”, Graciela Gonzales, a spokeswoman for LGBT+ legal advocacy group Lambda Legal, said by email. “Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports,” Biden’s order said.

“Adults should be able to earn a living and pursue a vocation knowing that they will not be fired, demoted, or mistreated because of whom they go home to or because how they dress does not conform to sex-based stereotypes.”

Biden published a lengthy list of LGBT+ pledges during the presidential campaign and said he wanted to sign the Equality Act, which would explicitly outlaw discrimination against LGBT+ people – during his first 100 days in office. Biden also revoked a Trump order that had banned federal diversity training to combat racist, sexist and homophobic bias, as part of his “order on advancing racial equity and support for underserved communities through the federal government”.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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first published:April 02, 2021, 16:08 IST