Fight for transgender rights plants its flag on Capitol Hill

Marjorie Taylor Greene hangs anti-transgender sign outside her office, after a neighbor with a transgender child places a transgender flag outside hers.

Posted: Feb 28, 2021 6:00 PM
Updated: Feb 28, 2021 6:00 PM

This week illustrated how far the US has come in the battle for transgender rights and representation -- and how far the country still has to go.

On Thursday, the House passed the Equality Act for the first time since Democrats secured both chambers of Congress.

It's unclear if the Equality Act has any path in the Senate. But that uncertainty doesn't diminish the bill's significance. The Equality Act would expand the 1964 Civil Rights Act and prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and other services as well as in access to public accommodations.

Crucially, the bill would largely trump "religious liberty" arguments, a point that has led many Republicans to chafe at what they see as a lack of exemptions for discrimination based on someone's religious beliefs.

Transgender community advocates have long championed the legislation and see its passage as essential.

"The #EqualityAct is constituent service," tweeted Virginia Del. Danica Roem, a Democrat who's one of the country's first out transgender lawmakers. "Pass it."

Also on Thursday, a Senate panel considered the nomination of Dr. Rachel Levine, President Joe Biden's choice for assistant health secretary.

If approved, Levine would be the first out transgender federal official to be confirmed by the Senate.

Those events on Thursday were momentous. But this week also offered several reminders that, in obvious ways, anti-transgender bigotry in the US endures.

On Wednesday, Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia was roundly rebuked after she posted an anti-transgender sign outside her office, across the hall from Rep. Marie Newman, an Illinois Democrat who has a transgender daughter.

A supporter of conspiracy theories, Greene has a history of making anti-transgender, anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic remarks. Earlier in February, the House voted to remove her from her committee assignments.

Before Greene posted her sign, Newman shared a video on social media of herself planting a transgender pride flag in the hallway across from Greene's office, following the Georgia Republican's excoriation of the Equality Act on the House floor.

"It was a statement I felt very necessary. ... I felt as though she needed to hear from us," the Democratic congresswoman told CNN's Alisyn Camerota on "New Day," when asked about the flag.

Newman continued: "You know, I'm immensely proud of my daughter, and that's all anyone is asking for, is to be treated as anyone else, and that's what I want Rep. Greene to see."

It wasn't just Greene who voted against the Equality Act on Thursday. In 2019, eight House Republicans supported the Equality Act; only three GOP members did this time around. It's also worth pointing out that Republican Reps. Mario Díaz-Balart of Florida and Elise Stefanik of New York voted for the Equality Act in 2019 but not on Thursday.

(Reps. Greg Walden, Susan Brooks and Will Hurd -- the three other Republicans who backed the Equality Act in 2019 -- no longer serve in Congress.)

And during Levine's Senate confirmation hearing, Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky used the occasion not to explore the former Pennsylvania health secretary's qualifications but to elevate anti-transgender misinformation about, among other things, "genital mutilation."

"Transgender medicine is a very complex and nuanced field with robust research and standards of care that have been developed," Levine explained to Paul.

"If I am fortunate enough to be confirmed as the assistant secretary of health, I will look forward to working with you and your office and coming to your office and discussing the particulars of the standards of care for transgender medicine," she added.

All told, the dominant mood this week was guarded optimism. Transgender Americans are making strides in the fight for their rights. At the same time, there are those ready to keep equality just beyond reach.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319948

Reported Deaths: 7371
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22285267
Hinds20719421
Harrison18431317
Rankin13901282
Jackson13718248
Madison10263224
Lee10059176
Jones8467167
Forrest7832153
Lauderdale7261242
Lowndes6517150
Lamar635188
Lafayette6313121
Washington5425137
Bolivar4841133
Panola4670110
Oktibbeha466198
Pearl River4605147
Marshall4574105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425873
Monroe4157135
Union415777
Neshoba4063179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386987
Leflore3515125
Tate342486
Sunflower339491
Pike3371111
Alcorn327272
Scott320374
Yazoo314171
Adams308086
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma298784
Simpson298589
Tippah291968
Prentiss284161
Leake272074
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264642
Grenada264087
George252251
Newton248663
Tishomingo231868
Winston230181
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190474
Stone188433
Clay187954
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174132
Yalobusha167840
Smith164134
Walthall135347
Greene131834
Lawrence131124
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127238
Amite126242
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108234
Tunica108127
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman82216
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69632
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548657

Reported Deaths: 11306
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson810031566
Mobile42105831
Madison35690525
Tuscaloosa26173458
Shelby25607254
Montgomery25081614
Baldwin21868314
Lee16278176
Calhoun14719327
Morgan14629285
Etowah14175364
Marshall12453230
Houston10781287
Elmore10293214
Limestone10179157
St. Clair10162251
Cullman9952201
Lauderdale9603250
DeKalb8972190
Talladega8460184
Walker7338280
Autauga7241113
Blount6945139
Jackson6932113
Colbert6413140
Coffee5635127
Dale4928116
Russell454841
Chilton4476116
Franklin431382
Covington4275122
Tallapoosa4138155
Escambia401680
Chambers3728124
Dallas3607158
Clarke353061
Marion3240107
Pike314378
Lawrence3133100
Winston283472
Bibb268564
Geneva257981
Marengo250565
Pickens236962
Barbour234559
Hale227278
Butler224271
Fayette218862
Henry194543
Randolph187544
Cherokee187345
Monroe180041
Washington170539
Macon163051
Clay160059
Crenshaw155957
Cleburne153444
Lamar146837
Lowndes142254
Wilcox126930
Bullock124342
Conecuh113630
Coosa111729
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93634
Choctaw62125
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