President Joe Biden honored International Transgender Day of Visibility on Wednesday by issuing a presidential proclamation, the first of its kind to commemorate the occasion. 

Since 2009, Transgender Day of Visibility has been observed on March 31 to celebrate the accomplishments of trans and gender-nonconforming people. Though intended to be festive, it has taken on a somber tone for the past two years amid both the COVID-19 pandemic and a spike in transphobic violence. 

In his proclamation, Biden said that he and Vice President Kamala Harris “affirm that transgender Americans make our nation more prosperous, vibrant and strong.” 

“Transgender Day of Visibility recognizes the generations of struggle, activism, and courage that have brought our country closer to full equality for transgender and gender non-binary people in the United States and around the world,” he wrote. “Their trailblazing work has given countless transgender individuals the bravery to live openly and authentically.”   

The president also called on Congress to pass the Equality Act, a comprehensive anti-discrimination bill many see as the LGBTQ rights movement’s top legislative priority.

“The Equality Act will deliver legal protections for LGBTQ+ Americans in our housing, education, public services, and lending systems,” he wrote. “It will serve as a lasting legacy to the bravery and fortitude of the LGBTQ+ movement.” 

Biden followed the proclamation with a social media post that offered similar sentiments. 

“Together, we can stamp out discrimination and deliver on our nation’s promise of freedom and equality for all,” he wrote in the post, which had garnered more than 349,000 likes on Instagram and Twitter combined as of Wednesday afternoon.

Many members of the LGBTQ community have expressed optimism about the Biden-Harris administration in the months since the contentious 2020 election. The president made LGBTQ history in his Nov. 7 victory speech by singling out trans voters. 

Just days after being sworn into office, Biden signed an executive order reversing the Trump administration’s ban on transgender people serving in the military. He also selected Dr. Rachel Levine, who is trans, as assistant secretary for health in the Department of Health and Human Services.

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