Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) pledged to read the names of transgender victims of violence annually in the Rose Garden, should she become president.
She also vowed to reinstate protections revoked by the Trump administration, and tackle problems such as LGBTQ homelessness.
It came after moderators at the PBS News Hour/Politico debate last night raised the issue of violence against transgender women for the first time at a debate.
“At least 22 transgender people were killed in the United States this year, most of them transgender women of color,” moderator Yamiche Alcindor said. “Each of you has said you would push for the passage of the Equality Act, a comprehensive LGBTQ civil rights bill. But if elected, what more would you do to stop violence against transgender people.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders answered first, saying, “We need moral leadership in the White House. We need a president who will do everything humanly possible to end all forms of discrimination against the transgender community, against the African-American community, against the Latino community, and against all minorities in this country.”
Sanders then pivoted to his signature policy, Medicare for all, saying that healthcare should be “available to every person in this country, regardless of their sexual orientation or their needs,” and “certainly the transgender community.”
Alcindor then directed the question to Warren.
“Here’s a promise I made: I will go to the Rose Garden once every year to read the names of transgender women, of people of color, who have been killed in the past year,” Warren responded. “I will make sure that we read their names so that as a nation we are forced to address the particular vulnerability on homelessness. I will change the rules now that put people in prison based on their birth sex identification rather than their current identification.”
She added: “I will do everything I can to make sure that we are an America that leaves no one behind.”
It’s not the first time Warren has highlighted violence against transgender people. She previously read the names of every trans woman of color killed in 2019 at an LGBTQ forum in Iowa in September.
LGBTQ groups have characterized violence against transgender people — particularly transgender women of color — as an epidemic, and have decried the lack of discussion around the topic and other LGBTQ issues at previous debates.
Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David praised the debate moderators for raising the issue.
“Tonight, the epidemic of violence against transgender people — especially trans women of color — was for the first time meaningfully discussed on the main stage of the Democratic presidential debate,” David said in a statement. “Now, more than ever, it is vital that our voices are heard and that the candidates are able to address our community directly. Thank you to Politico, PBS and the Democratic National Committee for creating space for this crucial conversation.”
Warren received particular praise on Twitter for her response, with Charlotte Clymer, HRC’s press secretary for rapid response, noting in a viral Twitter thread that Warren’s campaign has spent months reaching out to the transgender community.
“Elizabeth Warren’s team reached out to me eight months ago to ask about transgender rights,” Clymer wrote. “I’m not special. They did this with a LOT of trans folks. We found this out by talking to each other and realizing the full extent of their outreach. She knows trans issues.”
She added: “I remember suggesting to her team to focus on violence against trans women of color, particularly Black trans women, and suggested a few names. ‘Oh, we talked to them already.’ And they had. Incredibly thorough and committed to learning.”
I remember suggesting to her team to focus on violence against trans women of color, particularly Black trans women, and suggested a few names.
“Oh, we talked to them already.”
And they had. Incredibly thorough and committed to learning.
— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) December 20, 2019
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