This Is The Best Presidential Candidate For Transgender Rights — But There’s A Catch

Ad failed to load

With the primaries approaching, it's time to take a hard look on a topic that most of the candidates won't willingly broach without some goading: the issue of transgender rights. It's a politically-marginalized matter — one that, itself, is about marginalization. Last year was arguably a "bumper year" for trans visibility, as Vogue recently put it — full of breakthrough moments like the release and critical acclaim of the film Tangerine, Laverne Cox's feature in Allure's annual "Nudes" issue, and Diane Sawyer's colossally-covered interview with Caitlyn Jenner. Regardless, these notable achievements are still limited in scope as far as overall representation and depiction of trans issues is concerned.

The fact is, there are still several matters affecting the trans community that did not grace headlines or "make the mainstream" in 2015, but should have. For example...

Ad failed to load
  • Many continue to struggle to find employment because of their gender identification. Furthermore, 32 states have no state law protecting transgender individuals from being fired for being who they are.

When it comes to transgender rights and advocacy in the world of politics, of all the Democratic candidates — and, yes, I can group the entirety of the GOP presidential hopeful base into one giant bucket marked "hazardous material" — Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has done and promised the most thus far.

Ad failed to load
Andrew Burton/Getty Images News/Getty Images

But promises are the precarious cornerstones of even the most robust of political campaigns. And no one understands the questionable weight that most bureaucratic pledges carry better than Catalina Velasquez, who was born in Colombia and came to the U.S. as a child with her family in 2002.

Velasquez, who is a transgender immigrant, met with Sanders on Dec. 7 at a Washington D.C. round-table hosted by the senator's campaign to discuss his recently released comprehensive immigration reform proposal. She praised Sanders' outline but noted that she was concerned. "We're facing disproportionate effects in this environment," she remarked to Sanders, before offering data discovered by a 2014 Fusion investigation that found U.S. immigration officials hold an average of 75 transgender immigrants in detention every night, the vast majority of whom are women seeking asylum and are detained in men's detention centers.

Ad failed to load

"I apologize for not having dealt with that in our list of particulars," Sanders' told Velasquez in return, "but the issue that you raise is something that I'm more than conscious about and that is the discrimination against transgenders and the LGBT community."

(Yes, Sanders used the term "transgenders," about which Velasquez later brought up as another concern.)

Ad failed to load

Velasquez tells Bustle that, as a trans immigrant of color, she hopes that Sanders matches his words with action. "No one candidate comprehensively represents the transgender community, though Sanders has been the one to make promises. What I'm most interested in is how he intends to follow through," she said. "What alternatives to detention is the Senator looking at to dismantle the for-profit detention of immigrants, particularly vulnerable populations like LGBTQ people? There is a life after detention, so how is the senator looking to ensure we not only survive but thrive within society? What is the senator going to do to ensure all immigrants have access to life-saving and needed healthcare that includes preventive and abortion care as well as gender-affirming healthcare?"

Velasquez admits she was unable to press Sanders further on how he intended to devote himself to such concerns. But that doesn't mean she's going to stop asking questions and demanding the answers she deserves anytime soon.

Another transgender rights activist, Andi Dier, who operates the Transgender Advocates for Bernie Sanders Facebook page, took a more forceful (and necessary) approach in pushing Sanders' on the issue.

Ad failed to load

Dier documented her experience on Planet Transgender, recalling how, even as one of the lone two trans activists (the other, her partner) vocally present at a Sanders rally in New York, she made a noticeable impression on the Vermont senator and presidential hopeful. Dier and her partner literally followed Sanders around NYC that day, pressing him to speak to on the issue.

Then, as she recalls in her Planet Transgender post:

Ad failed to load

Sanders' tweet referred to the current network of federal housing and discrimination laws and how the rights of transgender individuals are often called into question in many parts of the United States. The ACLU outlines on its website how bills to prevent discrimination based on gender identity have slowed significantly due to the current GOP-controlled Congress.

Ad failed to load

Until recently, Sen. Sanders was the only candidate to take to social media to address transgender rights. And he was the first to openly address the issue with the media. Regardless, members of the transgender community, along with their allies, believe that more — much more — needs to be done. As Dier eloquently points out in her article, "[This tweet] is a promising step for Sanders. ... But we deserve more than 140 characters."

Indeed, it is a promising step. And Bernie Sanders is on the right track. He just needs to go further — much further.

Images: Getty (2); Courtesy of Catalina Velasquez (1), Mary Rabun

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

I Wore 'Dad Shoes' For A Week & They Were SO Much Cooler Than I Thought They’d Be

It’s no secret that fashion loves a good polarizing trend. Not too long ago, Birkenstocks made their high fashion runway appearance at Céline and Crocs followed suit on the runways of Christopher Kane and Balenciaga. Now, it’s time for the "ugly" sne…
By Dale Arden Chong

7 Surprising Things That Happened When I Went A Month Without Drinking

If someone asked you if you could take a break from drinking alcohol, would you be able to do it? You may think it’s no big deal to take a month off from drinking, or you may think it’s a *huge* deal, as alcohol seems to be the center of many social …
By Natalia Lusinski

5 Books Under 300 Pages That Are Perfect For St. Patrick's Day Weekend Reading

The grocery stores are stocked with corned beef and cabbage, the local pubs are starting to advertise a particular shade of beer, and in city streets all across America, signs about parade routes have been posted for everyone to see, so you know what…
By Sadie Trombetta

8 Ways Younger Millennials Communicate That Older Millennials Don’t Get

When comparing the ways our parents grew up communicating and the way we all grew up communicating, it seems like their generation and ours grew up in a different world. The technology our parents grew up with was so basic, it's ancient in comparison…
By Kaitlyn Wylde

This Is The ONE Sign That Won’t Be Affected By Mercury Retrograde This Month

It really doesn't seem fair that one astrological sign can ever enjoy the benefit of escaping the wrath of Mercury retrograde — that is, of course, unless that sign is your own — but it happens. Occasionally, the stars just align in the right way for…
By Kaitlyn Wylde

Why My Boyfriend & I Started Couples Counseling 6 Months Into Our Relationship

Right away, Kurt and I agreed on almost everything. We had met through a mutual friend in 2015, but we didn't start dating until we came across each other on Bumble a few years later. That's when we discovered that we were on the same page when it ca…
By Rachel Simon

This Lace-Front Wig Is Going Viral Because No One Believes It's Actually A Wig

To understand how Zendaya easily goes from a pixie cut to voluminous curls or how the Kardashian-Jenners switch hair colors as frequently as they change clothes is to know the power of a good wig. Now that there's a lace-front wig going viral, the Tw…
By Summer Arlexis

This Primer & Mascara Combo Literally Doubles The Length Of My Eyelashes

Even as someone who loves beauty, I was never been particularly passionate about finding the perfect mascara. And then I got lash extensions for the first time. While I enjoy the long, full lashes that lash extensions provide, I always found myself j…
By Olivia Muenter

I Accidentally Fell In Love With My Friend With Benefits & It's Painful

Against my better judgment, I have fallen in love with my friend with benefits. I think I may have fallen in love with him month ago, but being stubborn AF, I fought against those feelings, tooth and nail, and, when it was suggested by a couple close…
By Amanda Chatel

This Viral Post About A Woman Breastfeeding In Public Actually Has A Happy Ending For Once

And today in things that will warm even the coldest of hearts, we have this: A story recently posted to the r/TwoXChromosome subreddit about a dad’s response to his daughter shaming a breastfeeding parent is everything. Posted by Redditor u/starsonwi…
By Lucia Peters

These March Beauty Launches Require Your Immediate Attention

I write one of these beauty editorials every month (feel free to check out January and February 2018 if you're in need of even more products to shower yourself with). Sometimes, I get worried that there won't be enough newness to share — especially b…
By Amanda Richards

Here's How You’re Most Likely To Get Your Heart Broken, Based On Your Zodiac Sign

Getting your heart broken can be one of the most painful experiences you can have in your life. But if you're into astrology, being familiar with your zodiac sign can be pretty helpful. For instance, when you know the ways you're likely to get your h…
By Kristine Fellizar

Finger Piercings Are Trending & The Internet Is Very Divided About Them

A new "accessories" trend is asserting itself on Instagram and it's subversive, non-traditional, and so darn precious. It also looks a tad painful but the end result is worth it. Dermal diamond finger piercings are a thing and they may make actual ri…
By Amy Sciarretto

How I Learned Losing Your Job Isn't The End Of The World

Two and a half years ago, I was taking a day off from my marketing job at a San Francisco tech startup to host a friend when I got a call from the CEO. Apparently, I'd missed a pretty big day: 80 percent of the company, including the whole sales and …
By Suzannah Weiss

Meghan Markle's First Appearance With The Queen Included An Homage To Princess Diana

Fashion pundits love keeping a close eye on what the women of the monarchy are wearing, especially when there's an overlap with Princess Diana's sense of style. We're nothing but nostalgic when it comes to Princess Di and her on-point aesthetic. Find…
By Marlen Komar

Why Arizona's Exit From 'Grey's Anatomy' Is A Huge Blow To The LGBTQ Community

Whenever I re-watch Grey's Anatomy, I don't start with Derek Shepherd waking up in Meredith's apartment after their first hookup. I start with Season 5, when Callie first meets Arizona in a bar. I start here, because I want to watch someone like me f…
By Martha Sorren

I Couldn't Find A Beauty Campaign With Plus Size Models, So I Made One Myself

In the fall of 2015, I visited relatives in my hometown, a small suburb of New Jersey. There isn't much to do there, apart from dining at Applebee's or hitting the mall. As a plus size woman, cruising through a shopping mall is a mixed bag. Certain d…
By Marie Southard Ospina

7 Signs You're The Emotionally Unavailable One In Your Relationship — And How To Work On It

It can be a weird feeling when you realize your relationship isn't working. But it happens — even in a long-term relationship — that, despite spending months or years together, you can realize that something is just missing. Sometimes that thing that…
By Lea Rose Emery

The 21 New Books That Goodreads Users Are Most Excited About This Spring

Despite the fact the Northeast is being pummeled by yet another storm that threatens to trap the region in snow and ice for eternity, winter is finally almost over, and you know what that means. No, I'm not talking about April showers or May flowers …
By Sadie Trombetta

Chelsea Clinton Gets Real About Twitter Trolls & What REALLY Infuriates Her About Trump

Before you read the first word on the first page of Chelsea Clinton's new book, you already know one thing: Strong women have always been a big part of her life. There's her mother, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was the first woman to run for president…
By Erin Delmore

If You’re Addicted To Rewatching ‘The Office,' There’s An Actual Reason For That

A few weeks ago, I tweeted that I was looking for fans of The Office who can't stop, won't stop rewatching the series, and that they should email me if they'd like to contribute to an article about their obsession. By the next morning, I had 32 messa…
By Lia Beck

Pregnant Chinese Women Have Been Eating Pearl Powder For Generations To Give Their Kids Clear Skin

If I were to line up next to my sisters, the difference is immediately noticeable: where my skin is a bit patchy and unmemorable, their skin radiates. Both of their faces have a discrete, poreless glow, and I’m certain you could bounce a kernel of ri…
By Angela Chen

This Is The Most Common Myers-Briggs Type

If you've ever really wanted to get to know yourself, you'll probably want to try out the Myers-Briggs type indicator test. You've probably seen a lot of articles online, and wondered about what the most common Myers-Briggs type is, as there's a lot …
By Kaitlyn Wylde

Halo Brows Take The Unibrow To New Heights — Literally

If there's one thing you can count on Instagram to deliver, it's some of the wackiest makeup trends, especially when it comes to brows. Considering beauty enthusiasts are all too eager to get creative with their arches, it's no wonder halo brows are …
By Summer Arlexis