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Hillary Clinton Responds to Backlash Over Controversial Trans Comments

Hillary Responds to Backlash Over Controversial Trans Comments

After weeks of criticism regarding recent statements on transgender people, Hillary Clinton reaffirmed her support for trans rights.

One day before the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), the former Secretary of State posted a statement on Twitter to clarify her recent comments claiming that cisgender women have a “legitimate concern” about trans women and that we must be “sensitive” to transphobia. Although those comments led some to believe that she was adopting more conservative views on LGBTQ+ issues, Clinton said she continues to believe that “transgender people deserve nothing short of full equality.”

“As Secretary of State, I was proud to change policy so that transgender Americans could carry passports that reflect their true gender,” she wrote. “As a candidate for president, I sought out the input of the transgender community and put forward a platform for trans equality. I’m glad to see the Democratic presidential candidates putting forward platforms of their own.”

As Out previously reported at length, the 2016 Democratic nominee has made several gaffes relating to trans rights while promoting The Book of Gutsy Women, a series of profiles authored with daughter Chelsea. 

First, in an interview with U.K.’s The Sunday Times, Clinton nodded emphatically when interviewer Decca Aitkenhead stated that cisgender women of an earlier generation may experience some discomfort with sharing a locker room or restroom with transgender women. Calling it a “very big generational discussion,” she claimed the issue wasn’t “something [she] grew up with or ever saw.”

“It's going to take a lot more time and effort to understand what it means to be defining yourself differently,” she said at the time.

Although some claimed her words were taken out of context or that she misspoke, Clinton made a nearly identical argument during an interview with BBC’s Radio 4 less than a month later. She told the broadcaster that she does “think there is a legitimate concern about women’s lived experience and the importance of recognizing that, and also the importance of recognizing the self-identification [of transgender people].”

Calling trans issues “relatively new,” Clinton added, “I think in the right mindset this can be understood, but it’s going to take some time.”

The comments were somewhat surprising given Clinton’s previous support of trans rights. Her 2016 campaign page on LGBTQ+ equality affirmed her support for open trans military service and vows to fight anti-trans violence, expanding bias training for police officers when interacting with members of the trans community, and make it easier for transgender people to receive corrected documentation. 

Clinton has been a vocal critic of Trump’s trans military ban and a firm supporter of the Equality Act, which would ban anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination in nearly all forms of public life, including housing, health care, employment, education, and credit.

In her statement honoring TDOR, Clinton touched on many of those points.

“In a time when we’re living through a crisis of violence toward transgender women of color that’s getting worse instead of better, cruel decrees from the White House about transgender Americans who serve our country, and an era where bullying and discrimination are being elevated like never before, it’s clear that we have urgent work to do,” she wrote.

“This is a moment for every single one of us to affirm that transgender people deserve equality, safety, and opportunity,” Clinton added. “Millions of people see you, and stand by you.”

The closing remarks are reminiscent of a 2015 speech delivered to the Human Rights Campaign, in which Clinton claimed all Americans “need to say, with one voice, that transgender people are valued, they are loved, they are us.” She also harkened back to her iconic 2011 speech to the United Nations with an Instagram photo accompanying the statement shared on Twitter. “Trans rights are human rights,” she wrote.

RELATED | Hillary Clinton Says Trans Issues Pose ‘Legitimate Concern’ for Women

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