Since the start of 2023, more than 450 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced by state legislators. Roughly 350 of those bills target transgender people—the majority of which specifically target trans youth, policing their right to use the bathroom of their choice at school or to participate in youth sports. Certainly, queer communities are enduring a draconian onslaught of political hate—but no amount of hate was ever going to stop them from getting dressed to the nines and protesting as loudly as their voices would allow.
Such was the scene on the red carpet for the 34th annual GLAAD Awards on Saturday night in New York City, where a beautiful spectrum of queerness paraded into the ballroom at the midtown Hilton, from drag queen legends Alyssa Edwards and Trixie Mattel to lesbian Housewives of Orange County star Braunwyn Windham to the entire cast of the gay rom-com Fire Island. And White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was on hand to assure attendees that trans rights are both human rights and a priority for the Biden administration.
“I’ve met a lot of parents of trans kids in the past couple of months who have told me these devastating stories, whether they’re in Texas or Oklahoma or wherever they are, saying how they now have to seriously consider leaving their state to protect their child,” Jean-Pierre told Jezebel on Saturday. “That’s something that we have to call out and continue to be very clear about. These are kids. These are our kids. They belong to all of us.”
Through Jean-Pierre, the Biden administration has repeatedly admonished the efforts of conservatives to demonize LGBTQ+ people—including drag queens—for simply living their lives. In April, Jean-Pierre invited the cast and creator of The L Word to a White House press briefing in honor of Lesbian Visibility Week, while Biden introduced a proposal to block outright bans on trans athletes participating in sports (though federally funded schools could still potentially block trans athletes from competing on teams that align with their gender identity). And while releasing fact sheets and statements are hardly enough to counter the aggressive, hate-fueled Republican legislative strategy, every statement of support from the White House matters to the marginalized people whose lives are under attack.
“This administration has done a lot in the past few years by lifting up policies that show that this community is important. This is a President that has been incredibly vocal and has been an ally for a very long time, so we’re going to continue to do that,” Jean-Pierre told Jezebel. “There’s been many times at the podium where I have called out these pieces of legislation. I’ve tried to do my best to reach out to the trans community and to the LGBTQ+ committee from the podium so that they know what this administration is going to continue to do, which is fight, have their back, and continue to stand with them as they’re going through a truly devastating and horrific time.”
Jean-Pierre, of course, has made history in her own right, as the first Black and first openly queer Press Secretary to ever walk the halls of the White House (she happened to make her first public appearance as Press Secretary at last year’s GLAAD Awards, and said she received a “warm” standing ovation on a night she remembers fondly). Together with her partner, former CNN correspondent Suzanne Malveaux, she’s raising daughter Soleil Malveaux Jean-Pierre, whom the couple adopted.
“Every day when I walk into the White House or into the briefing room, I carry so many many communities on my shoulders. That’s something that I’m very keenly aware of. But my job is to speak on behalf of the President of the United States,” Jean-Pierre said. “My job is to connect with the American people and tell them exactly what we’re doing, what our platform is, what policy we’re trying to push, what message that we’re trying to connect with them…and what we’re doing to improve their lives. So that is always my focus.”
Before continuing on with her evening, Jean-Pierre left Jezebel with one last message for trans girls, in particular: “We love you, we see you, be who you are. It is important to be who you are and not let anyone tell you otherwise because that is your superpower.”