The incoming Biden-Harris administration made LGBTQ+ issues a priority during the 2020 Presidential campaign. Overturning Trump’s hated trans military ban and extending LGBTQ+ protections nationwide were just a few of the goals mentioned in the team’s policy positions. Major components of that campaign saw LGBTQ+ folks functioning as campaign staffers like Karine Jean-Pierre as well as surrogates like Pete Buttigieg.
During the transition period, Biden has sought to back up his promises with action by ensuring equal representation among those creating, implementing, and explaining the president’s policies once in office. With names like Buttigeg, trans veteran Shawn Skelly, Chai Feldblum, Dave Noble, and Pamela Karlan — all of whom are LGBTQ+ — all working as a part of the transition team, the president-elect has began to name appointments for his administration. Here are a few we know about so far.
Pictured left to right: Karine Jean-Pierre (Shutterstock); Pili Tobar (Wikipedia); and Carlos Elizondo (Paul Morigi / Stringer Drew Angerer / Getty Images).
Jean-Pierre has been named the principal deputy press secretary for the Biden-Harris administration. Originally a senior campaign advisor, the 2020 Out100 honoree was quickly promoted to chief of staff for Harris, the first ever Black person and out lesbian to hold that position for a vice-presidential nominee.
“America is progressing towards a stronger, more inclusive future — and I know women of color are a driving force in that evolution,” she tells Out. “Soon, I believe our politics will start to show it a bit more too.”
Tobar is slated to become the deputy White House communications director. She had previously worked with the Biden team as communications director for coalitions. Tobar will be one of seven women filling senior positions in the White House communications office.
“So happy and honored to have the opportunity to serve as White House Deputy Communications Director with this amazing team of women!” Tobar recently tweeted.
Elizondo, the incoming administration’s social secretary, had been the first out member of Biden’s future White House staff, but he has plenty of company now. Elizondo was previously special assistant to President Barack Obama and social secretary to Biden and his wife, Jill, during all eight years Biden was vice president; he was the first Hispanic-American to hold this position. In that capacity he was responsible for planning and overseeing all events hosted by the Biden family, including those involving members of Congress, foreign dignitaries, business leaders, and celebrities.
On December 15, 2020 Pete Buttigieg's nomination to the U.S. presidential cabinet as Transportation Secretary was announced by President-elect Joe Biden. The nomination made history as the first nomination of an out LGBTQ+ official to the U.S. presidential cabinet. Buttigieg, a former presidential hopeful, must be confirmed by the Senate to the post. If he is confirmed, he will make history again.
"I'm also mindful that the eyes of history are on this appointment, knowing that this is the first time an American president has ever sent an openly LGBTQ cabinet member to the Senate for confirmation," Buttigieg said in a press event about the nomination before reflecting on the homophobia that stalled President Clinton's nomination of ambassador James Hormel.
In 2020 Donald Trump appointed Richard Grenell as Acting Director of National Intelligence, a Cabinet-level role. The role is not within the 15-seat presidential cabinet. Grenell did not need to be nominated as it was not a permanent role, nor was he confirmed for it by the Senate as a result of the temporary nature — he had been previously confirmed by the Senate for his role as ambassador to Germany. While holding the Acting Director of National Intelligence position, Grenell attended one full Cabinet meeting, days before vacating the role.