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Social media users distort Biden’s position on transgender issues

October 19, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said during an Oct. 15 town hall that he would change the law so children between the ages of 6 and 8 can have sex changing medical procedures.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. While answering a voter’s question about transgender rights, Biden did not mention sex changing medical procedures. He said he would “change the law” in reference to Trump administration policies that restrict transgender people from enlisting in the military or from being protected by non-discrimination laws.

THE FACTS: At the Oct. 15 town hall broadcast on ABC, Pennsylvania voter Mieke Haeck told Biden she had an 8-year-old transgender daughter.

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“The Trump administration has attacked the rights of transgender people, banning them from military service, weakening nondiscrimination protections and even removing the word ‘transgender’ from some government websites,” Haeck said in her question.

She then asked Biden, “How will you as president reverse this dangerous and discriminatory agenda and insure that the lives and rights of LGBTQ people are protected under U.S. law?”

Biden responded, “I will flat out just change the law. Every — eliminate those executive orders, number one.”

The Trump administration has barred people who have transitioned to a different gender from enlisting in the military. The administration has also tried to change regulations so “gender identity” is not protected under federal laws that prohibit sex discrimination in health care, though the regulation is being challenged in federal court.

A 2019 report by the Web Integrity Project, a project of the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation, found that during the Trump administration, the term “transgender” was less commonly used on some federal agency websites than in the Obama administration. The report also found some pages no longer included information about discrimination protections for transgender individuals.

At the town hall, Biden went on to say, “The idea that an 8-year-old child or a 10-year-old child decides, ‘You know I decided I want to be transgender. That’s what I think I’d like to be. It would make my life a lot easier.’ There should be zero discrimination.”

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Yet posts on social media are misrepresenting Biden’s answer to this question.

“ABC Townhall, Oct. 15, 2020: Joe Biden confirms that as President, yes, he would ‘Just flat out change the law,’ so six to eight year old ‘transgender’ children can have sex changing medical procedures…” reads one misleading Facebook post.

A transcript of the ABC town hall on Oct. 15 shows Biden never discussed sex changing medical procedures in his response.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536