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U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg has criticized Republican-led efforts in multiple states to attack and restrict the rights of transgender individuals.
Buttigieg, the first openly gay Senate-confirmed cabinet secretary, appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last week to mark the end of Pride Month and to speak about President Biden’s infrastructure plans.
He denounced those “politicians who’ve decided it’s good politics to attack transgender kids, some of the most vulnerable people in our society.”
Lawmakers in multiple Republican-controlled states have introduced or passed laws restricting healthcare access for trans youth and banning transgender athletes from competing in sports according to their gender identity.
“High school is terrifying when you’re transgender. High school is terrifying when you’re not transgender,” Buttigieg continued. “And these kids have the courage to be who they are. And they just want to be accepted and go to the bathroom like everybody else, and play sports like everybody else and live.”
He added: “The really dangerous thing is if you have people in positions of responsibility going around, whose position basically is that transgender people don’t exist, some young people will hear that message as one that transgender people shouldn’t exist. And some of them will believe it.”
Buttigieg noted that trans people just want to “live and to live well, and that’s one of the basic things that politicians are in charge of securing, not threatening.”
“I hope that it will prove to not be good politics to pick on transgender kids,” he said, “when these political attacks and terrible laws get beaten back.”
During the interview, Buttigieg again noted the historic nature of his appointment as transportation secretary, referencing remarks he delivered at the White House during Pride Month.
“It wasn’t that long ago, if you look at the ’50s, there was a historical episode called the Lavender Scare,” he said. “You couldn’t even be a bookkeeper or an astronomer in the federal government without your job being at risk if you were gay.”
Watch the full interview below:
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