Former President Barack Obama has broken his silence on anti-trans legislation in the US, calling the campaign heartbreaking.
The Trump administration passed numerous laws last year attacking LGBTIQ rights – removing anti-discrimination protections for trans people in healthcare, permitting government organisations to turn away LGBTIQ people in need, and preventing openly trans people from serving in the military.
Civil rights groups launched legal action challenging the legislation on behalf of LGBTIQ organisations.
Current President Joe Biden took actions including scrapping the military ban in his first days in office, after acknowledging the trans community in his victory speech that thanked members of various minority groups.
“It breaks my heart,” said Obama of the discriminatory laws.
“This is not who we are.”
This year, Republicans have continued to introduce anti-trans bills, already totalling over 100 in 33 states.
“For many years now, we’ve seen some Republicans seek political advantage by pitting us against one another, often by going after certain groups of people who just want equal treatment,” Obama told The Advocate.
“These bills are doing real harm – especially to young people – whether they end up passing or not.
“Growing up is hard enough, and at some point, we all struggle to find our place in the world.”
The former President said that young LGBTIQ people needed to know that they deserve equal rights.
“America has always been at its best when we open our arms wider and help more people feel like they belong – not treat them like second-class citizens because they’re different,” he said.
Obama lauded President Biden for having signed an executive order on his first day to protect LGBTIQ people from discrimination by federal agencies.
“I would love my legacy [as the most LGBTIQ-friendly US president] to be overshadowed, because it would mean another president was doing even more to protect [LGBTIQ] rights,” he said.