Metro Weekly

Anti-trans activist to represent U.S. at U.N. Commission on the Status of Women

LGBTQ advocates accuse USAID's Bethany Kozma of seeking to advance a right-wing social agenda

Bethany Kozma – Photo: Fairfax County Public Schools.

International LGBTQ advocates are criticizing the United States for naming a vocal opponent of transgender rights to its official delegation to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. 

OutRight Action International was the first to sound the alarm over the inclusion of Bethany Kozma, the senior advisor to the Office of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment at the U.S. Agency for International Development, in the delegation. The LGBTQ organization fears that Kozma will use her position to advocate for language in official CSW resolutions that would deliberately exclude transgender women or discourage the commission from recognizing their legal or civil rights.

“Bethany Kozma’s track record as an anti-trans activist should disqualify her from representing the United States at the largest women’s rights and gender justice meeting,” Jessica Stern, the executive director of OutRight, said in a statement. “She is known for her hateful rhetoric against transgender people, specifically trans children, and has been at the forefront in undermining their rights.”

Kozma first gained local recognition as part of a coalition of conservative parents within Fairfax County who objected to the county’ approval of language in its nondiscrimination policy that provided protections for LGBTQ students and employees. 

Afterwards, Kozma launched United We Stand, a campaign designed to galvanize parents around opposing and crafting policies to block the Obama administration’s guidance to schools encouraging administrators to treat transgender children according to their gender identity, including allowing them to access gender-affirming restrooms and locker rooms. Part of her work with United We Stand included partnering with the Family Research Council, which vehemently opposes LGBTQ rights.

Kozma has insisted that her aim was to protect children from “sexual predators” who would exploit lax bathroom policies to enter intimate spaces and put children, particularly young girls, at risk of abuse. But she has also frequently expressed skepticism about gender dysphoria, and referred to transgender children as “gender confused children.”

“Having worked with known hate groups, such as Family Research Council, it is clear that Kozma will push for restrictive and discriminatory language at the CSW negotiations,” Stern said.

Stern added that Kozma said, during last year’s CSW, that the United States was a “pro-life nation” and accused her of trying to push an agenda that might include opposing the lifting of restrictions on access to abortion services or birth control.

“The U.S. administration must remove Bethany Kozma from the delegation to the CSW immediately,” Stern added. “It is an embarrassment that an anti-trans activist is on the delegation, not to mention someone who is misrepresenting U.S. law in negotiations. The US must uphold its values of non-discrimination at all times, and prevent Kozama from co-opting this space to impose her hateful agenda in the negotiation room.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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