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Several Democratic candidates brought the issue of transgender rights to the debate stage on Wednesday night — likely the most prominent national discussion of trans issues and rights in politics to date.

“We do not talk enough about trans Americans, especially African-American trans Americans, and the incredibly high rates of murder right now. We don't talk enough about how many children, about 30% of LGBTQ kids, who do not go to school because of fear."
— Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey)

Context: At least ten black transgender women have been reportedly killed this year, Vox reports. Booker appeared to be responding to these statistics.

The big picture: The Trump administration has worked to undo a major chunk of LGBTQ protections secured under President Obama — with most of the effort directed towards transgender rights.

That includes:

  • Rolling back an Obama-era order allowing transgender people to openly serve in the U.S. military
  • Attempting to roll back protections for transgender people established under the Affordable Care Act
  • Telling the Supreme Court that federal law doesn't protect transgender people from workplace discrimination
  • Removing Title IX protections for transgender youth
  • Changing an Obama-era policy allowing prisoners to be housed based on gender identity.

What else they're saying: At Wednesday's debate, former HUD Secretary Julián Castro referenced transgender women while explaining his stance on reproductive healthcare, saying trans women should have "the right to choose" abortion access.

  • Reality check: Transgender men and non-binary people with a uterus can get pregnant and may choose to obtain an abortion. Transgender women cannot get pregnant.

Flashback: Castro, Warren, and Biden made a point to include transgender people in their reproductive health care spiels at a Planned Parenthood forum in June.

Go deeper

House passes $768 billion defense spending bill

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The House approved a $768 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 2022 fiscal year in a bipartisan 316-113 vote on Thursday.

Why it matters: The annual bill, which authorizes Pentagon spending levels and guides policy for the department, would require women to register for the military draft, among other provisions.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Republicans’ secret lobbying

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The five Senate Republicans who helped negotiate and draft the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill have been privately courting their Republican colleagues to pass the measure in the House.

Why it matters: House GOP leaders are actively urging their members to oppose the bill. The senators are working to undercut that effort as Monday shapes up as a do-or-die moment for the bipartisan bill.

CBC members nix border visit

A Haitian migrant carries a toddler on his shoulders today as he crosses the Rio Grande River. Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP via Getty Images

Several members of the Congressional Black Caucus weighed visiting the U.S.-Mexico border this week to investigate the conditions faced by Haitian migrants and protest allegations of inhumane treatment by U.S. agents.

Why it matters: It's a thorny proposition both in terms of timing and messaging. Going assures a new wave of negative headlines for President Biden amid sinking popularity. And with congressional deadlines in the coming days over infrastructure, a possible government shutdown and debt-limit crisis, Democrats can't afford to lose any votes in the House.