As Democratic candidates prepare to take the stage for a LGBTQ+ Town Hall event Thursday, Elizabeth Warren has unveiled a comprehensive, 12-page plan to further queer and transgender equality in the White House.
Warren’s detailed agenda includes outlawing conversion therapy nationwide, banning discrimination against same-sex couples in adoption and foster care placement, decriminalizing HIV transmission, reversing the trans military ban, expanding the pathway to asylum for LGBTQ+ refugees, stopping harassment of transgender people by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials, ending the blood ban for gay and bisexual men, and expanding access to PrEP to prevent the spread of HIV.
As the Supreme Court weighs a trio of landmark cases on whether LGBTQ+ people are entitled to protection under federal civil rights laws, Warren also called for the passage of the Equality Act.
“The stakes are high, and people are scared,” Warren says. “No matter what happens at the Supreme Court, we need a president who will lift up the voices of every LGBTQ+ person, stand up to discrimination, and fight back. And as president, I will fight shoulder to shoulder with them — because no one should ever be unsafe, unheard, or disempowered because of who they are or who they love.”
Warren’s agenda is broken up into 10 sections featuring more than 40 specific pledges to the LGBTQ+ community. There are too many sections in her policy outline to go into every single one, but highlights include proposals to fight the national crisis of violence against trans women of color, end the HIV/AIDS epidemic, increase LGBTQ+ data collection, support LGBTQ+ youth and their families, and further equal rights for LGBTQ+ people under the law.
The Massachusetts Senator’s plan to secure full legal equality for queer and trans people includes issuing executive orders to restore Obama-era protections for federal LGBTQ+ employees repealed by the current administration, increasing investigations into anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination by employers, and making nondiscrimination a precondition of receving federal grant dollars. If elected president, she would also nominate pro-equality judges to the Supreme Court and curtail waivers that allow religious universities to discriminate against LGBTQ+ students.
Her plan to make America safer for LGBTQ+ youth and same-sex families outlines policies to expand paid family leave plans to include members of queer chosen families, combat anti-LGBTQ+ bullying in schools, and make it easier for trans young people and adults to update their birth certificates, state IDs, and passports.
And after reading out the names of slain transgender people onstage during a recent LGBTQ+ rights forum hosted by The Advocate, One Iowa, and GLAAD, Warren again paid tribute to the nearly two dozen trans individuals killed this so far year, the majority of whom were Black women. She called to prevent further homicides by creating a grant program in the Office of Violence Against Women to fund organizations which focus on the needs of trans women of color and giving trans people equal access to homeless shelters which match their gender identity.
“The path to LGBTQ+ equality is far from over, but shoulder to shoulder, I will fight for LGBTQ+ equality in solidarity with the leaders and organizers who have been at the helm from the very beginning,” Warren says. “Because when we organize together, when we fight together, and when we persist together, we can win.”
But when it comes to ending violence against trans women of color, one policy missing from Warren’s plan is a call to decriminalize sex work — which advocacy groups have claimed will help prevent deaths of vulnerable trans women who engage in prostitution to survive. The progressive candidate has previously faced criticism for voting in favor of FOSTA/SESTA, a bill which put sex workers at further risk by shutting down resources that allowed them to safely screen clients.
However, Warren does state that she is “open to decriminalizing sex work.” “Sex workers, like all workers, deserve autonomy,” she says, “and are particularly vulnerable to physical and financial abuse and hardship.”
While Warren addressed criticism of her 2012 position of denying medically necessary care to trans inmates by calling to ensure that prisons offer transition-related surgeries, a discussion of trans health policy is oddly absent from the discussion of plan on Medicare for All. Although she claims her universal health plan will ensure “that LGBTQ+ people can get care no matter where they live,” it does not mention whether that will include hormones and surgery for trans individuals who may not be able to otherwise afford it.
Warren’s campaign website isn’t any more clear on the issue, but her Medium page specifies that the candidate supports coverage “for all medically necessary care for LGBTQ+ patients under Medicare for All, and allowing providers discretion to deem gender-affirming procedures as medically necessary based on an individualized assessment.”
“I will also ensure that intersex and transgender children have a say in their health care — especially when it comes to decisions that affect whether their bodies match their gender identity,” she adds.
Even with a handful of critical blindspots, Warren’s LGBTQ+ agenda remains among the most extensive and broad-ranging to date. While 2020 challenger Beto O’Rourke and former presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand (who dropped out in August) have outlined sweeping visions for queer and trans equality, many candidates have yet to publish their platforms on these issues at all, while very few have spoken out in favor of LGBTQ+ rights during the three rounds of Democratic debates.
Six months after declaring his intention to run for president, Joe Biden still doesn’t have a tab for LGBTQ+ issues on his website. Neither do Amy Klobuchar, Steve Bullock, Tom Steyer, Michael Bennet, or Tim Ryan. While entrepreneur Andrew Yang has a page devoted to his LGBTQ+ platform, it doesn’t outline a single tangible policy proposal.
Warren and Biden are currently locked in a virtual tie for first place in the Democratic primary, according to poll averages tracked by RealClearPolitics.
Note: This post has been updated since its initial publication.