By Lauren Rearick
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who is among those running to earn the nomination for the Democratic party’s 2020 presidential candidate, commemorated the beginning of Pride Month by sharing her extensive LGBTQ+ Rights Agenda. In a Medium post published on May 31, the New York senator detailed her proposed plans for ensuring the protection of rights for LGBTQ+ people, and she included her support for a ban on conversion therapy.
Senator Gillibrand’s plan is centered on four areas: equal rights, families and kids, health care, and safety. If elected, she intends to use her presidential platform to “undo Trump’s harmful policies and defend the civil rights of LGBTQ Americans,” Refinery29 reported. Her agenda begins with support for the Equality Act, a measure, passed by the House and on its way to the U.S. Senate, that would guarantee protection for the rights of LGBTQ+ people by making discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity illegal.
She is also calling for an immediate rescission of President Donald Trump’s current military ban on transgender troops and the addition of a third option for gender on identification documents: an X that would be available for those “who don’t feel comfortable with a ‘male’ or ‘female’ designation.”
Her families and kids category contains proposed ideas including the reinstatement of a measure from President Barack Obama that allowed students to use the restroom and locker room that aligns with their gender identity, an increase in federal funding for mental health resources aimed at LGBTQ+ youth, and a Secretary of Education nominee that could “ensure that LGBTQ kids aren’t marginalized at school.”
She also supports a nationwide ban on so-called conversion therapy, a harmful practice wherein homophobic people attempt to forcibly change someone’s gender identity or sexual orientation. There is no proof that conversion therapy works, and although it’s been shown to lead to anxiety, depression, and suicide, 56 percent of minors still live in areas that haven’t outlawed the practice.
Casey Pick, Senior Fellow for Advocacy & Government Affairs for The Trevor Project, told MTV News that a ban would be extremely beneficial, as LGBTQ+ youth are an already extremely vulnerable portion of the population, and research has shown that tens of thousands of young people are subjected to harmful conversion therapy tactics before they turn 18. "Ending the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy is vital to protect LGBTQ youth from the harms of this pseudo-scientific ‘therapy,’ which include dramatically increased risk of suicide attempt,” Pick said. “The Trevor Project regularly hears from youth who have been subjected to conversion therapy on our crisis services.”
Senator Gillibrand’s extensive list of proposed LGBTQ+ reforms includes an increase in funding for HIV and AIDS research, a requirement that health insurance companies cover hormone replacement therapy, and a guarantee in funding for homeless shelters that service LGBTQ+ youth, CBS News noted.
“I won’t stop at the policies I’ve outlined today when it comes to fighting for LGBTQ families and individuals,” Gillibrand wrote on Medium. “The LGBTQ community is not a monolith with a finite set of needs, and equal rights and freedom from discrimination should be the bare minimum we accept.”
Other Democratic hopefuls have shared some of their views on LGBTQ+ rights since announcing their candidacies. Senators Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and Cory Booker, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg have all publically supported passing the Equality Act. Governor William Weld, who is running against Trump in an effort to earn the Republican party’s nomination, has supported some LGBTQ+ rights in the past, GLAAD notes. Democratic candidates are likely to delve further into their planned legislation during an October 10 debate centered on LGBTQ+ issues; any potential Republican debates have not been announced.