Last night’s (November 20) Democratic presidential debate included no questions related to LGBTQ rights, despite it being Transgender Day of Remembrance.
There were only two vague acknowledgements of LGBTQ Americans: Kamala Harris said toward the end of the debate: “We’ve got to re-create the Obama coalition to win. And that means about women, that’s people of color, that’s our [LGBTQ] community, that’s working people, that’s our labor unions,” and Pete Buttigieg made a reference to marriage equality: “Wearing this wedding ring in a way that couldn’t have happened two elections ago lets me know how deep my obligation is to help those whose rights are on the line every day, even if they are nothing like me in their experience.”
However, no direct questions about LGBTQ issues, particularly regarding the violence against transgender people detailed in the Human Rights Campaign’s annual report released yesterday, were asked by the moderators. According to the report, at least 151 trans people have been murdered in American since 2013 and at least 22 this year.
“Another Democratic debate has come and gone, and there were still zero direct questions about [LGBTQ] issues,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement. “It is a slap in the face to LGBTQ Americans that not one of the candidates nor the media could join in mourning the at least 22 transgender women of color killed this year in anti-transgender violence. Trans issues, specifically violence against transgender women of color, is an issue at the heart of the LGBTQ community—and it’s time for a leader who will work to stop the violence that trans people face.”
According to Media Matters, only one of the over 600 questions asked over the past four Democratic debates pertained to LGBTQ issues: during the first debate, Tulsi Gabbard was asked about her past work with an anti-LGBTQ advocacy group. Despite the lack of LGBTQ-related questions, some candidates referenced the LGBTQ community unprompted. Cory Booker spoke about the violence against the black trans people and Julian Castro included trans people as those who need access to abortion during the first debate.