President Biden Says Florida's 'Cruel' Anti-Trans Bills Are 'Close to Sinful': 'What Are They Thinking?'

Ron DeSantis, President Joe Biden
Ron DeSantis, President Joe Biden

Tristan Wheelock/Bloomberg/Getty Images; Kevin Dietsch/Getty Ron DeSantis, President Joe Biden

President Joe Biden is trying to appeal to the humanity of lawmakers pushing anti-LGBTQ legislation.

In a preview clip from his first appearance as president on Monday night's episode of The Daily Show, Biden, 80, tells guest host Kal Penn that transgender kids are going through a "harder" experience in places like Florida, where they continue to be targeted by transphobic bills.

"What's going on in Florida is, as my mother would say, close to sinful. It's just terrible what they're doing," he says. "It's not like a kid wakes up one morning and says, 'I decided I want to become a man' or 'I want to become a woman.'

"I mean, what are they thinking about here? They're human beings. They love, they have feelings, they have inclinations — it just to me is, it's cruel," adds Biden.

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After signing the Respect for Marriage Act into law in November, protecting the federal right to same-sex marriage, Biden hopes Congress will take a similar approach with transgender rights.

"The way we do it is we make sure we pass legislation like we passed on same-sex marriage," he explains to Penn. "You mess with that, you're breaking the law, you're going to be held accountable."

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As of last month, a record 340 pieces of anti-LGBTQ legislation have been introduced across the United States in 2023, according to the Human Rights Campaign — many of which target transgender youth specifically.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been one of the politicians leading the charge against transgender rights, pushing a ban on gender-affirming care for minors and Medicaid recipients, as well as signing a bill into law that bans trans women and girls from playing on sports teams that match their gender identity.

Transgender rights
Transgender rights

Scott Olson/Getty

Biden has been vocal about his support for the transgender community since taking office, quickly reinstating transgender healthcare protections and removing the ban on transgender military members — both undoing policies imposed by his predecessor Donald Trump — before taking aim at the "onslaught of state laws targeting transgender Americans" in his first State of the Union speech last March.

While kicking off Pride Month last year, he also continued to urge Congress to vote on the Equality Act, which would expand the 1964 Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity.

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"I will always have your back as your President so that you can be yourself and reach your God-given potential," he wrote in a proclamation last May. "Today and every day, my Administration stands with every LGBTQI+ American in the ongoing struggle against intolerance, discrimination, and injustice."

Biden continued: "We condemn the dangerous State laws and bills that target LGBTQI+ youth. And we remain steadfast in our commitment to helping LGBTQI+ people in America and around the world live free from violence."

See President Biden's full interview with Kal Penn on The Daily Show Monday at 11 p.m. ET/PT on Comedy Central.