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On Transgender Day of Visibility, White House announces moves to expand trans rights

Cole Ramsey, 39, of South Linden, Ohio, holds a Transgender Pride Flag in front of the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus to protest the passing of legislation against trans women playing sports in high school and college.
Stephen Zenner
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SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Cole Ramsey, 39, of South Linden, Ohio, holds a Transgender Pride Flag in front of the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus to protest the passing of legislation against trans women playing sports in high school and college.

The Biden administration on Thursday announced changes in the travel process and access to health resources to expand the rights of transgender and nonbinary Americans. The White House also announced several other initiatives as part of Transgender Day of Visibility.

The administration's announcements come as several Republican-led states have passed anti-trans legislation in the last few months. States including Arizona, Iowa and Texas have restricted the rights of transgender Americans.

"The Administration once again condemns the proliferation of dangerous anti-transgender legislative attacks that have been introduced and passed in state legislatures around the country. ... These bills are government overreach at its worst, they are un-American, and they must stop," the White House said.

State Department and DHS make changes to travel process for transgender and nonbinary people

The Department of Homeland Security says it will update the TSA screening technology that will reduce false alarm rates and pat-downs. Transgender Americans have typically had to go through additional screening with current, gender-based technology.

And beginning on April 11, U.S. citizens can mark "x" on their passport applications, rather than just male or female, the State Department announced.

"For far too long, transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming Americans have faced significant barriers to travelling safely and many have not had their gender identity respected as they travel within the United States and around the world," the White House said.

The White House highlights mental health resources for trans youth

The administration is also focusing on providing mental health resources for transgender youth. The Department of Health and Human Services released a new website that offers guidance for LGBTQ youth and their parents.

The department is also confirming the positive impact of gender-affirming care, which thousands of LGBTQ youth are at risk of losing after the recent wave of Republican-led bans attempting to block access.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has noted that transgender youth are often at higher risk for suicide attempts and self-harm.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Deepa Shivaram is a multi-platform political reporter on NPR's Washington Desk.