A newly formed pro-transgender political action committee has sent out a questionnaire to each of the major 2016 presidential candidates — but only Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders has responded.
The Trans United Fund, launched in April with the goal of building the transgender community’s political power, sent out a questionnaire to campaigns for both Hillary Clinton and Sanders. Although the Clinton campaign initially signaled it would answer the questions, the campaign has yet to return the questionnaire, the committee says.
Monica Roberts, a Houston-based advisory member of the Trans United Fund presidential endorsement committee, chided Clinton for neglecting to respond to the survey, saying off-the-record commitments from political candidates on trans rights are no longer sufficient.
“We believe that the secretary is a champion on trans rights issues and are perplexed by the campaign’s reluctance to follow through and go on the record with stating that commitment,” Roberts said. “We believe it’s important – not just for us – but also for our community, our allies and the people like myself who enthusiastically voted for you in the various primary contests – to have the benefit of responses from both candidates.”
The 15-page questionnaire prepared for the candidates covers a range of transgender issues, seeking candidate’s positions on transgender employment as well as access to transition-related health care, education and housing.
In his responses, Sanders affirms support for trans rights in each of these areas. Additionally, he volunteers a proposed executive order requiring all federal employees to have access to workplace facilities consistent with their gender identity and to establish an interagency working group to increase opportunities for the trans community.
The candidate also recommits himself to fighting HIV/AIDS in response to questions on the epidemic and pledges to work to reform state HIV criminalization laws, which to varying degree penalize the transfer of HIV.
Sanders identifies as his greatest achievement for transgender people his role in enacting the Affordable Care Act, which he says secured $11 billion to expand the network of Federally Qualified Health Centers to assist minority communities like transgender people.
But Sanders didn’t respond to all of the questions. One on whether he has employed a transgender person to work for him in a government and business context, and another on whether he supports the legalization of sex work were left unanswered.
Many of Sanders’ answers reflect his responses during an interview last year with the Washington Blade in which he promised to make transgender people visible in his administration and became the first presidential candidate to endorse openly transgender military service.
It’s unclear why the Clinton campaign didn’t respond to the questions. The Clinton campaign didn’t respond to the Washington Blade’s request to provide an explanation for why responses weren’t returned.
Bamby Salcedo, advisory member of the Trans United Fund presidential endorsement committee, echoed the call for the Clinton campaign to complete the questionnaire.
“The trans community is under attack, and in order for us to make a credible, and impactful endorsement, we need a commitment from our leaders on issues that make life or death differences for trans people,” Salcedo said. “That is why we created a survey that included key issues like violence and HIV as well as non-discrimination and bullying. We believe – and we believe the secretary believes – that these are political issues. And that’s why we’re holding firm that both candidates should honor their commitment to complete the questionnaire and let our community and our allies know where they stand.”
In her LGBT platform, Clinton says she’ll make trans issues a priority, including protecting transgender people from violence, streamlining identity documents and investing in law enforcement training for interactions with LGBT people. Clinton also made HIV/AIDS a prominent component of her campaign, has met with HIV/AIDS activists and has called for end to HIV criminalization laws.
The Trans United Fund also sent a questionnaire to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. According to the political action committee, Trump also didn’t respond to the questionnaire.