Barack Obama has hit out at the various anti-trans bills that are being introduced into legislation in the United States.
In an interview with The Advocate, the former US president said it “breaks” his heart to see Republican lawmakers attempt to win over voters by targeting the transgender community.
“For many years now, we’ve seen some Republicans seek political advantage by pitting us against one another, often by going after certain groups of people who just want equal treatment,” said Obama.
This year alone has seen 33 states introduce over 100 anti-trans bills to marginalise the community even further, particularly when it comes to transgender individuals in sports.
Last week, Florida became the latest state to ban transgender girls and women from competing in female sports, following in the footsteps of Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Mississippi, Tennessee and West Virginia.
“These bills are doing real harm — especially to young people — whether they end up passing or not. Growing up is hard enough, and at some point we all struggle to find our place in the world,” continued Obama.
“I can’t imagine how difficult it is for young people to know that some leaders — including people who are supposed to be representing you — don’t think they deserve equal rights.
“It breaks my heart. This is not who we are. America has always been at its best when we open our arms wider and help more people feel like they belong — not treat them like second-class citizens because they’re different.”
Obama also said he was “so happy” to see President Joe Biden sign an executive order on his first day in office directing federal agencies to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“He also rolled back the previous administration’s ban on transgender Americans serving in the military, and took other steps to support and protect LGBTQ communities here around the world,” he added.
“Now, we obviously have more work to do. We need to do even more to guarantee basic rights and protections for every American. My hope is that whatever success we had while I was president proves that progress is possible.”
You can read President Barack Obama’s full interview with The Advocate here.