A national group for trans people in the United States is waiting for Hillary Clinton to complete a survey on where she stands on issues. On the other hand, the group is not waiting for Bernie Sanders. He followed through on his commitment to fill out the questionnaire.
The Trans United Fund (TUF) expressed disappointment with Clinton. “We know personally what’s on the line for us and our nation, and we fervently believe it is crucial to seek a bold and unambiguous commitment to our community from all candidates that seek our support,” Monica Roberts of the TUF presidential endorsement committee declared.
“We believe that the Secretary is a champion on trans rights issues and are perplexed by the campaign’s reluctance to follow through and go on the record with stating that commitment. We believe it’s important—not just for us—but also for our community, our allies, and the people like myself who enthusiastically voted for you in the various primary contests—to have the benefit of responses from both candidates.”
According to The Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson, Sanders affirmed support for trans rights when it comes to employment in addition to “transition-related health care, education, and housing.” He supported President Barack Obama’s executive order to require “all federal employees to have access to workplace facilities” regardless of their gender identity (and would issue an additional executive order to renew protection).
Sanders also answered questions related to HIV/AIDS. He pledged to “reform state HIV criminalization laws, which to varying degrees penalize the transfer of HIV.” He highlighted the role he played in ensuring the Affordable Health Care Act had $11 billion to “expand” a “network of federally qualified health centers to assist minority communities like transgender people.”
“Too often, it seems as if the ‘T’ in LGBT is silent. In my administration, the T will not be silent,” Buzzfeed reported.
Of the questions in the survey, Sanders did not answer all of them. He did not indicate whether he had employed a trans person or if he supported the legalization of sex work.
Sanders has a long history of supporting the LGBTQ community that goes all the way back to when he first ran for office in Vermont in the 1970s. He supported the abolition of discriminatory laws, which targeted sexual orientation. As mayor of Burlington, he backed the city’s first pride parade.
He voted against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, which few representatives opposed. He is the co-sponsor of legislation called the Uniting Families Act, which would make it possible for the partner of any U.S. citizen or resident to “obtain lawful permanent residency,” just as heterosexual partners are able to do.
The Clinton campaign will not provide any explanation for why it did not respond to the survey on trans issues. It committed to answering the survey and was sent the questionnaire on April 11.
TUF indicated in a press release, “[The] Sanders campaign replied with an enthusiastic commitment to complete this questionnaire. Trans United Fund received a call from a Clinton campaign representative a full two weeks after the campaign had committed to complete the survey, explaining that the survey was ‘too long’ and the campaign did not have the appropriate resources to complete it in a timely manner. The Sanders campaign completed the questionnaire completely and on time.”
For a “frontrunner” Democratic presidential candidate, who has cast herself as the inevitable nominee, it’s hard to comprehend how the campaign could not have found time to answer some questions important to trans people.
It is possible someone from the TUF could have used a debate in California to pose a critical question on transgender rights to Clinton. However, Clinton does not believe it is a good use of campaign time to participate in a debate for Californians. She declined an invitation to participate in a debate, which she agreed to do earlier in the primary race.
And, as of May 24, the Trans United Fund has taken to social media to pressure Clinton to respond so they can consider her answers before they make a presidential endorsement:
“The trans community is under attack, and in order for us to make a credible, and impactful endorsement, we need a commitment from our leaders on issues that make life and death differences for trans people. That is why we created a survey that included key issues like violence and HIV as well as non-discrimination and bullying,” Bamby Salcedo of the TUF presidential endorsement committee stated.
Either the Clinton campaign believes the Trans United Fund would not dare endorse Sanders because at the moment she is likely to be the Democratic Party’s nominee, or the campaign does not think finding some staff member to complete the survey is all that important and will gamble on whether TUF endorses Sanders.
Regardless, it does not bode well for transgender people, who certainly do not want to be ignored or disregarded by the next President of the United States.