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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 2, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 44
One more reason to love Joe Biden
Section One
ALL STORIES
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One more reason to love Joe Biden

Veep speaks out for Transgender rights

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

At an October 30 campaign event in Florida, Vice President Joe Biden made another unscripted statement on LGBT rights - this one in support of the Transgender community.

According to a pool reporter who was on the scene, Biden approached a woman in the crowd of supporters because he thought she 'had beautiful eyes.' She said something inaudible to the vice president and he responded. The reporter heard only the words 'civil rights issue of our time.'

Linda Carragher Bourne, a resident of Sarasota, Florida, later told the reporter that her daughter was Miss Trans New England and that she had asked Biden if he would do something to help Trans people.

'A lot of my friends are being killed, and they don't have the civil rights yet. These guys are gonna make it happen,' Bourne told the reporter.

FIRST-HAND ACCOUNT
Bourne later described her encounter with Biden in an exultant Facebook post:

'THEN! As I was waving my arms like Kermit the Frog (WITH the Peace Sign, of course&smile&), he SAW ME!' she wrote.

'He said, TO ME (!!!) 'Wow! Look at those EYES!!!'

'He immediately came over and gave me a HUGE BEAR HUG (pics to come, on the Late News&haha!). THEN! I got to TELL him what I had to SAY! Yup. Y'all guessed it! I spoke (babbled? I pray not&) about Civil Rights for Trans People, about the hatred, the murders, the UTTER NECESSITY to protect Our Trans Citizens!

'He actually had a conversation with me about 'it all.' He declared his Support, his DEVOTION to Civil Rights for ALL Peoples, and specifically Transgender Folks! It was a miraculous (to me) and Magical Moment In Time. I felt ZERO Bullshite coming from him. ZERO!!! He's in our Corner, Friends!!! And. He has Obama's 'ear!'

'YAYYYYYYY!!!!'

'If nothing else, I feel as though, today, I was 'gifted' with the opportunity to SPEAK UP! For ALL OF US!!! *happy gettin' the word out dancin'* :)'

Bourne's daughter, Lorelei Erisis, later left a comment on Politico's account of the incident:

'As the aforementioned Miss Trans New England, I would like to thank Vice President Biden for his words in support of Transgender Civil Rights! Also, for his apparently excellent taste in singling my Mom Linda Carragher Bourne out from the crowd! Slainte [to your health] Mr. Vice President! Trans Rights Now!'

LOCAL REACTION
Seattle activist Marsha Botzer, founder and co-chair of Ingersoll Gender Center, told SGN that Biden's remarks showed progress towards full inclusion for the Trans community.

'Words can reflect history and make history,' Botzer said. 'I believe the vice president's words represent the change so many have fought for - incomplete at the moment, but ever so much closer. Transgender is fully and wholly a part of the social justice struggle now. We will never go back.'

Ingersoll co-chair Breanna Anderson also welcomed Biden's remarks. 'Vice President Biden is notable for making populist and value-based statements from the gut in personal interactions,' she said.

'Vice President Biden's comment was, I think, a personal and genuine statement of support and concern to a mother of a Transgender child, who expressed concern for her daughter and all Transgender people,' Anderson told SGN. 'Over-parsing it as policy is not where we should be focusing.

'The simple fact that government officials at the top level demonstrate awareness of this misunderstood and frequently maligned community and their needs is welcome news indeed.

'In the last four years, this administration has made life easier for Trans people in so many ways, through policy and advocacy, so these words are not hollow rhetoric,' she added.

'We can only hope that we get four more years to solidify protections and do the basic work of education and awareness that will better the lives of hundreds of thousands of Trans and gender-variant citizens.'

WE MUST STAY UNITED
Although some commentators have questioned whether Biden was specifically referring to Trans rights, or to LGBT rights more generally, Anderson cautioned against pitting communities against one another.

'Marriage equality has recently been referred to by many as 'the civil rights issue of our time,' she said. 'I suppose it depends on what your historic horizon is. At any one time there are many civil rights issues at play and it is vital that we avoid building a hierarchy of disenfranchisement and rights. We must move ahead together in alliance on many fronts at any given time.'

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