Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Recognizes Transgender Day of Remembrance

Rex Tillerson

In a surprising move given the Trump administration’s hostility to transgender people’s rights, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has issued a statement observing Transgender Day of Remembrance.

“On Transgender Day of Remembrance, the United States honors the memory of the many transgender individuals who have lost their lives to acts of violence,” said the statement, posted on the State Department’s website.

“Transgender individuals and their advocates, along with lesbian, gay, bisexual and intersex persons, are facing increasing physical attacks and arbitrary arrests in many parts of the world. Often these attacks are perpetrated by government officials, undermining the rule of law.

“Transgender persons should not be subjected to violence or discrimination, and the human rights they share with all persons should be respected.

“On this Transgender Day of Remembrance, the United States remains committed to advancing the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons. These principles are inherent in our own Constitution and drive the diplomacy of the United States.”

There has been nothing from the White House, however. Under President Obama, the White House began recognizing the annual observance in 2012, The Hill notes.

Tillerson’s statement stands in contrast to other actions of Donald Trump’s administration, such as an attempt to reinstate the ban on military service by transgender people (currently blocked by a court order), withdrawal of guidelines on proper treatment of transgender students, and announcing that, unlike the Obama administration, it would not interpret federal civil rights law as banning discrimination based on gender identity -- along with attacks on the broader LGBT popularion.

Before becoming secretary of State, Tillerson was CEO of ExxonMobil, one of the last Fortune 500 companies to adopt an LGBT-inclusive antidiscrimination policy.  

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