Republicans react with fury as Joe Biden acknowledges Transgender Day of Visibility on Easter Sunday

Joe Biden; Donald Trump.
Joe Biden; Donald Trump. Photo credit: Getty Images

US Republicans are taking aim at President Joe Biden for proclaiming Easter Sunday as the Transgender Day of Visibility, though the two days only coincided this year by chance.

The Transgender Day of Visibility, which was started in 2009 as a day of awareness to celebrate the successes of transgender and gender-nonconforming people, is held annually on March 31. The date of Easter, meanwhile, changes from year to year.

But several Republicans seized on Biden's proclamation to attack the president.

"It is appalling and insulting that Joe Biden's White House … formally proclaimed Easter Sunday as 'Trans Day of Visibility," former President Donald Trump's campaign said in a statement.

House Speaker Mike Johnson said the Biden administration had "betrayed the central tenet of Easter" in a post on X. "The American people are taking note."

White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement Saturday, "As a Christian who celebrates Easter with family, President Biden stands for bringing people together and upholding the dignity and freedoms of every American."

"Sadly, it's unsurprising politicians are seeking to divide and weaken our country with cruel, hateful, and dishonest rhetoric. President Biden will never abuse his faith for political purposes or for profit," Bates said.

In this year's presidential proclamation, Biden said the Transgender Day of Visibility honours the "extraordinary courage and contributions of transgender Americans."

"Transgender Americans are part of the fabric of our Nation," the proclamation said, adding that they "deserve, and are entitled to, the same rights and freedoms as every other American, including the most fundamental freedom to be their true selves."

While touting his administration's work to advance transgender rights, such as lifting the transgender military ban, the president slammed Republican-led efforts to curb protections for trans Americans, describing them as "bullying and discrimination."

Responding to Johnson's statement on X that holding the Transgender Day of Visibility on Easter is "abhorrent," Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia said Sunday: "Apparently, the speaker finds trans people abhorrent. And I think he ought to think about that."

Warnock, the senior pastor of Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church, told CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union" that the Republican response marks "just one more instance of folks who do not know how to lead us trying to divide us."

"This is the opposite of the Christian faith," Warnock continued. "In a moment like this, we need voices, particularly voices of faith, who would use our faith not as a weapon to beat other people down but as a bridge to bring all of us together."

Biden issued the first-ever presidential proclamation of its kind in recognition of the Transgender Day of Visibility in 2021 and has since issued a proclamation every year.

The national debate over transgender rights has grown increasingly contentious, with Republican lawmakers at the state and federal level calling for a range of stringent laws, including restrictions on gender-affirming care for minors and excluding trans women from competing in sports teams that align with their gender identity.

Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, has made the issue a talking point, promising to "ban men from participating in women's sports." Several states have already moved to enact such a ban, expanding on other anti-LGBTQ efforts.

Some Republicans – including Johnson and Trump – also claimed that Biden banned religious-themed designs at the White House's Easter events. The American Egg Board, which partners with the White House on Easter events, said the procedures in place this year haven't changed.

"The American Egg Board has been a supporter of the White House Easter Egg Roll for over 45 years and the guideline language referenced in recent news reports has consistently applied to the board since its founding, across administrations," Emily Metz, president and CEO of the American Egg Board, said in a statement.

Metz said the board is required to "operate within federal guidelines for all of its activities" and that it is "prohibited from discriminating in all programming and activities on the basis of religion, political beliefs and all other stated categories."

Elizabeth Alexander, a spokesperson for first lady Dr. Jill Biden, cast the Republican egg complaints as "misleading swirl" and posted on X, "The American Egg Board flyer's standard non-discrimination language requesting artwork has been used for the last 45 years, across all Dem & Republican Admins."