For the second year in a row, the Trump administration has appointed the forces of anti-LGBTQ hate to represent the U.S. at one of the world’s leading summits on women’s rights.
Anti-trans activist Bethany Kozma recently attended the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), a international convocation on gender equality hosted at its New York location between March 12 and 23. The annual gathering, which boasts attendees from 45 nations, is the largest conference of its kind.
Kozma, who serves as the senior adviser for the Office of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), made waves during CSW for her comment that America is a “pro-life country.” She also fought to replace all language on “modern contraceptives” with the phrase “family planning” in a 70-page document traditionally issued at the end of the gathering.
But it’s not just Kozma’s abstinence-only advocacy that has proved concerning to critics. It’s also her unwavering anti-trans views.
A former official in the Department of Homeland Security (DSH) under President George W. Bush, Kozma has fought tirelessly against affirming bathroom access for trans people. When the Trump administration repealed guidance advising schools to allow trans students to use restrooms which correspond with their gender identity, she referred to LGBTQ inclusion as “lawlessness.”
“The silent majority must no longer be silent,” Kozma claimed in a statement. “With Trump, we now have a president who is focused on remedying the lawlessness of the prior administration.”
The conservative has repeatedly testified at public schools in her home state to lobby against protections for transgender youth. Kozma told a Virginia school board that allowing trans students to use the restroom which feels appropriate for them “tells young girls who are students that you don’t care how they feel.”
“You will be discriminating against your own students,” she urged the board of Loudoun County Public Schools. Kozma claimed passing trans-affirming guidelines would “[open] them up to sexual harassment sexual assault or rape.”
A year earlier Kozma told Fairfax County Public Schoolswhere she and her family livethat sexual predators would be “emboldened and enabled” by policies upholding the rights of trans students. She alleged these protections “allow males to take over bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms and push out females, denying them their right for privacy and safety.”
As a columnist at the right-wing news website The Daily Signal, Kozma has also warned that allowing trans students to be treated in a manner consistent with their gender identity silences parents and takes away their freedom of speech.
She also claimed that transgender children are “gender confused” and said the “radical agenda of subjective ‘gender fluidity’… endangers all.”
Multiple independent studies have shown there is no factual basis for her claims.
More than 200 municipalities across the U.S. allow trans people equal access in all public accommodations, including restroom facilities, and none has seen an increase in sexual assaults as a result. Nearly every leading rape prevention organization has condemned bills preventing trans people from using public bathrooms which match their gender expression.
Given her anti-LGBTQ history, leading advocacy groups have condemned the selection of Kozma as a delegate to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) as another attack on queer and trans people by the White House.
Jessica Stern, Executive Director of OutRight International, claimed Kozma’s comments should “disqualify her” from the position.
“It is an embarrassment that an anti-trans activist is on the delegation, not to mention someone who is misrepresenting US law in negotiations,” Stern said in a statement. “The U.S. must uphold its values of non-discrimination at all times and prevent Kozma from co-opting this space to impose her hateful agenda in the negotiation room.”
When Kozma was first appointed to the Office of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment at USAID last year, President and CEO of GLAAD Sarah Kate Ellis called it a “slap in the face to LGBTQ Americans” in a press release.
“[It’s] a huge leap in the wrong direction, which could place some of the most marginalized Americans directly in harm’s way,” Ellis said.
Kozma’s appointment to the annual U.N. conference, however, is consistent with the Trump administration’s prior picks. Last year the White House sent the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-FAM)a “hate group” which engages in international anti-LGBTQ advocacyto represent America’s interests at CSW.