Improving the Lives and Rights of LGBTQ People in America


Introduction and summary

The Trump administration spent the majority of its four years in office launching a barrage of attacks infringing on the rights of LGBTQ people, promoting discriminatory policies, and creating barriers to access critical government services. These actions reflect the Trump administration’s blatant disregard for the rights, dignity, and well-being of LGBTQ people, their families, and communities. In particular, the damages promulgated by the administration exacerbated existing inequalities and disparities between LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ people in the realms of health, employment, the justice system and law enforcement interactions, education, housing, and immigration. The real-world consequences of these policies have detrimentally affected the everyday lives of LGBTQ people, particularly LGBTQ people of color living at the intersection of identities that experience multiple forms of systemic and institutional discrimination.

This month, President-elect Joe Biden will inherit a country reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic and the impacts of an executive branch that has spent the past few years sowing chaos and deploying its authority through federal regulations, legal memorandums, and litigation to weaken civil rights protections for LGBTQ people. The Biden administration must waste no time and exert every effort not only to disentangle and dismantle the harms perpetrated by the Trump administration, but also to strategically and proactively promote the rights and well-being of LGBTQ people. While this task will pose a tremendous challenge to the new administration, this new chapter also offers hope for positive changes that affirm the rights and lives of LGBTQ Americans.

This report highlights the urgency of reversing damaging actions of the Trump administration while presenting a thematic vision for what the Biden administration can accomplished through executive actions that prioritize the lives and rights of LGBTQ people. Although by no means exhaustive, the report draws a road map for the incoming administration to systematically dismantle state-sanctioned and government-funded discrimination against LGBTQ people and to take concrete actions that embed the rights of LGBTQ people into the bedrock of the infrastructure of the executive branch. Taken as a whole, adoption of these recommendations will help to restore the U.S. government’s commitment to ensuring the respect, dignity, and rights of LGBTQ people across the country and abroad. Specifically, this report’s recommendations are divided into seven critical areas in which a Biden-Harris administration can take meaningful action:

  • Create overarching multiagency priorities to improve the well-being of LGBTQ people.
  • Increase access to affordable, high-quality, nondiscriminatory health care services and insurance benefits for LGBTQ people.
  • Promote the economic security and financial stability of LGBTQ people by fostering inclusive labor practices and workplace policies.
  • Protect and strengthen the civil rights of LGBTQ people engaged with the criminal legal system and law enforcement.
  • Foster inclusive, safe, welcoming, and affirming schools and educational environments for LGBTQ students.
  • Ensure greater access to safe and stable housing for LGBTQ people, as well as support services for those experiencing homelessness.
  • Support fair and humane treatment of LGBTQ immigrants, including by promoting the rights of LGBTQ people abroad.

Undoubtedly, it will require determined, thoughtful, and strategic collaboration throughout the Biden administration to successfully implement these recommendations, which will pose a remarkable challenge. The authors look forward to the incoming administration rising to meet this challenge and urge it to collaborate and cooperate with LGBTQ stakeholders as it works to achieve these goals throughout its tenure.