President Trump has LGBTQ advocates worried with his newest appointment of Bethany Kozma to the position Senior Adviser to the Office of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment at the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
Kozma has previously held positions in the White House and Department of Homeland Security under George W. Bush, but is more well known for her work after she left the government. In 2016, she helped launch United We Stand, an organization established to inform parents about the Obama administration’s transgender bathroom edict and encourage them to oppose it for the sake of their children’s — and, in particular, their daughters’ — privacy and safety.
Shortly after launching the group, Kozma wrote an article for The Daily Signal explaining the dangers she foresaw coming out of the Obama policy:
To put it simply, a boy claiming gender confusion must now be allowed in the same shower, bathroom, or locker room with my daughter under the president’s transgender policies. When I learned that predators could abuse these new policies to hurt children in school lockers, shelters, pool showers, or other vulnerable public places like remote bathrooms in national parks, I realized I had to do something . . . Let me be clear: It is not transgender persons who I am concerned about hurting my children. Instead, I’m concerned about those who will abuse these new policies.
Obviously, her prioritization of the privacy and safety of young girls over transgender persons’ desires to access whatever bathroom or locker room they wish puts Kozma at odds with the LGBTQ rights movement.
Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO of Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), responded to the appointment announcement with a statement slamming Kozma:
At a time when transgender women are facing rising levels of violence and income inequality, appointing someone to this post who has dedicated their life to harming transgender youth is a slap in the face to LGBTQ Americans and a huge leap in the wrong direction which could place some of the most marginalized Americans directly in harm’s way.
Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality also expressed disappointment with Trump’s pick:
By this point, it is unsurprising, though still disappointing, that top posts in the Trump administration are still filling up with opponents of basic civil rights. It is particularly distasteful and dangerous that someone like Bethany Kozma would be chosen as a senior adviser for women’s empowerment.
Last year, she opposed federal guidance that would make schools safer for transgender students, trotting out tired and discredited claims about transgender-inclusive policies. It is hardly empowering for a young transgender girl to be told every day that she does not deserve the same rights as her peers.
Bethany Kozma’s appointment is an insult to transgender women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, and she is a wholly inappropriate choice for the position.
Austin Ruse, president of the Center for Family and Human Rights, is not so sure that the LGBTQ organizations need to be so worried, however. He expressed concern that there are too many “squishes on this issue” who will give Kozma a hard time.
Only time will tell if Kozma will be able to hold her ground, but one thing seems certain: given Kozma’s track record, she will fight hard for what she believes.
Photo credit: mathiaswasik via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0