Richmond – Delegate Danica Roem and Delegate Mark Levine, two LGBTQ+ members of the Virginia House of Delegates, issued statements on the Trump administration’s discriminatory policies against LGBTQ+ individuals that impact transgender Virginians across the Commonwealth.
Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced a new rule that could prevent transgender individuals from accessing healthcare by not including transgender under unlawful discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced a new policy that would allow housing shelters to discriminate against gay and transgender individuals by refusing to admit them or forcing transgender women to use men’s bathrooms. Virginia Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton called on Secretary Ben Carson to resign over the discriminatory rule.
And last month, Trump’s policy of banning transgender Americans from serving in the military went into effect. The ban also applies to the Virginia National Guard.
Delegate Danica Roem (D-Manassas Park), who in 2017 became the first openly transgender person to be elected to a state legislature, issued the following statement:
“You cannot serve your constituents by attacking them, denying them rights and disrespecting their most basic sense of humanity.
“In the Virginia House of Delegates, I was proud to sign on as a co-patron of Del. Mark Levine’s state version of the Equality Act (HB 2421) but the House Republican leadership wouldn’t even allow a hearing on it in subcommittee. This is why the U.S. Senate needs to follow the Democratic-majority House of Representatives and pass the Equality Act now, and it’s one of the many, many reasons why we need to win a Democratic majority this Nov. 5— 2019 — in both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly.
“No one in Virginia or anywhere should be singled out and stigmatized by the very people elected to serve them. And when the politicians who perpetuate this discriminatory intransigence don’t change their minds, then we must change their seats.
“It’s time for change.”
Delegate Mark Levine (D-Alexandria) also responded to the Trump administration’s attacks on transgender Americans:
“Donald Trump has long been a champion for bigots. Whether the prejudice is based on race, religion, ethnic origin, or gender identity doesn’t seem to matter. Trump and his ilk don’t look to the content of one’s character; they work every day instead to enable the persecution of Americans who don’t fit their preconceived identity straitjacket.
“Do they take pleasure in the tears of trans youth kicked out of their homes and denied jobs? Do they cheer when innocent children are barred from doing something so mundane as using a public restroom? Do they secretly hope to increase the already too-high rate of trans suicide? I hope not. It would be sadistic. And heartless.
“Even worse, this fundamental lack of empathy for fellow Americans goes far beyond Donald Trump. Republicans in the House of Delegates consistently vote to deny their fellow Virginians a job, a home, and even the right to use a public restroom — for no other reason than rank bigotry. Even those Republican Delegates who pretend to care about the humanity of their Rainbow constituents unanimously oppose, year after year, the extremely modest budget amendment I introduce every session to ensure the Virginia Government does not discriminate against its own LGBT employees.
“When elected officials intentionally harm their own constituents — especially the most innocent and vulnerable among them — these representatives have failed in their core duty of representation.
“We Democrats know all Virginians deserve to be treated with dignity. We believe every Virginian is worthy of representation.
“And we know Virginia deserves a House of Delegates that supports the humanity and equal rights of all Virginians, no matter who they are or whom they love.”
In the 2019 Virginia legislative session, Delegate Levine’s state version of the Equality Act, HB 2421, was left in a Republican-majority commitee without a vote.