Jessica Stern, soon to become the State Department‘s special diplomatic envoy for LGBTG rights sees a mix of promising news and worrisome developments almost everywhere she looks, both at home and abroad.
In the United States, Stern’s admiration for President Joe Biden’s moves supporting LGBTQ rights is offset by her dismay at other developments. These include persisting violence against transgender women of color and a wave of legislation in Republican-governed states seeking to limit sports participation and medical options for trans youth.
”I don’t think there’s a country or region that’s all good or all bad,” she told the Associated Press on Friday. ”When you look around the world, you see progress and danger simultaneously.”
Stern, whose new post was announced by Biden last week, has served since 2012 as executive director of New York-based OutRight Action International, which works globally to prevent abuses of LGBTQ people and strengthen their civil rights. She expects to start the State Department job in September.
Stern is also worried that LGBTQ people in Myanmar are suffering disproportionately amid the military’s violent suppression of demonstrators and opposition groups.
Regarding the United States, she said, LGBTQ developments this year have reflected deep-seated contradictions.
She hailed Biden for moving to bolster transgender rights, including lifting a Trump administration ban that blocked trans people from joining the military. And she welcomed the ground-breaking appointments of LGBTQ people to important administration posts–including Pete Buttigieg who is gay, as transportation secretary, and Dr. Rachel Levine, who is transgender, as assistant secretary of health.