U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign staff has addressed the one anti-LGBTQ mark on her record.
Warren, the first Democrat to announce she’s considering a run for president in 2020, has generally been a staunch supporter of LGBTQ rights and of progressive causes in general. But in 2012, in her first campaign for U.S. Senate from Massachusetts, she joined her Republican opponent, Scott Brown, in denouncing a federal court’s order for gender-confirmation surgery for an inmate in one of the state’s prisons.
“I have to say, I don’t think it’s a good use of taxpayer dollars,” Warren said at the time. The order was for surgery for Michelle Kosilek, a convicted murderer. Because of appeals by the state, Kosilek still has not received the surgery.
Warren had not commented further on the matter until ThinkProgress raised the question recently in light of her presidential campaign. In response, a campaign spokesperson told the site, “Senator Warren supports access to medically necessary services, including transition-related surgeries. This includes procedures taking place at the VA, in the military, or at correctional facilities.”
Aside from the remark during the 2012 race – which Warren went on to win and then be elected to a second term in 2018 – her record on LGBTQ issues has been unequivocally supportive. She received a perfect score of 100 from the Human Rights Campaign during her first term. She voted for a transgender-inclusive version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in 2013 and is a cosponsor of its more expansive successor, the Equality Act, which has yet to come to a vote. She has been an outspoken opponent of Donald Trump’s anti-transgender actions, including his military ban and his administration’s attempt to define gender as fixed at birth.
One other senator who’s been mentioned as a potential Democratic presidential contender has opposed transition surgery for prisoners, ThinkProgress notes. That’s Kamala Harris of California, but the situation was slightly different. In 2015, as part of her duties as the state’s attorney general, she defended the California Department of Corrections, which opposed court-ordered gender-confirmation surgery for Michelle Norsworthy. Norsworthy was eventually paroled and announced plans to pay for the surgery herself. As with Warren, that’s about the only exception to Harris’s pro-LGBTQ record.