The Trump administration has reportedly sent a delegate who once called trans children “gender confused” and described the U.S. as a “pro-life nation” to a United Nations meeting being held to promote gender equality.
The U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the world’s largest meeting on women’s rights and gender equality, is being held at the organization's New York headquarters from 12 to 23 March. The event is attended by 45 member governments, as well as officials from several thousand civil society organizations from across the world.
Bethany Kozma attended CSW as the Senior Adviser for the Office of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment at the US Agency for International Development, according to LGBTQIA+ human rights group OutRight Action International.
Kozma, who was also part of last year's delegation, told attendees of a closed door event that the “U.S. is a pro-life nation,” according to LGBTQIA+ human rights group OutRight Action International.
On her author profile on the conservative news website The Daily Signal, Kozma is described as a “stay-at-home mom and former White House staffer from Fairfax County, Virginia.” According to a LinkedIn profile seen by Buzzfeed which has since been removed, she worked in the White House and Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush.
Kozma has publicly campaigned against transgender students being given the right to use bathrooms which match their gender identity since 2016, when President Obama released guidance to public schools on the issue which was later withdrawn by the Trump administration.
"The silent majority must no longer be silent. With Trump, we now have a president who is focused on remedying the lawlessness of the prior administration,” she wrote following the decision.
Last year, she told the Loudoun County Public Schools board that trans bathroom access “tells young girls who are students that you don’t care how they feel and you will be discriminating against your own students, potentially opening them up to sexual harassment… sexual assault or rape.”
Similarly, in 2016 she testified to her local Fairfax County Public Schools board, telling the the audience: "Imagine how predators will be emboldened and enabled, endangering other young girls if they are allowed to enter girls facilities and protected under your current policy."
Kozma has also written on the topic of trans bathroom access, describing trans children as “gender confused” in a 2017 The Daily Signal piece.
Conservative, pro-life organizations including The Family Policy Alliance, Family Research Council, and American Values supported Kozma’s anti-trans campaign, The Daily Signal has stated.
Responding to Kozma's attendance of CSW, Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International, called on the government to remove Kozma from its delegation "immediately."
She said in a statement: "Bethany Kozma’s track record as an anti-trans activist should disqualify her from representing the United States at the largest women’s rights and gender justice meeting. She is known for her hateful rhetoric against transgender people, specifically trans children, and has been at the forefront in undermining their rights.
“Having worked with known hate groups, such as Family Research Council, it is clear that Kozma will push for restrictive and discriminatory language at the CSW negotiations. Kozma is misrepresenting the status of abortions in this country, and is pushing a false and dangerous narrative.
"It is an embarrassment that an anti-trans activist is on the delegation, not to mention someone who is misrepresenting US law in negotiations. The US 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."
The Department of State, CSW organizers U.N. Women, and the Agency for International Development did not immediately respond to a request to confirm Kozma’s attendance and the statements she made.
A Department of State announcement on the delegation attending the 62nd CSW described the session as the U.N.’s most important annual meeting on women’s issues.” U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N., Nikki Haley, served as head of the delegation, while ambassador Kelley E. Currie, U.S. representative to the U.N. Economic and Social Council served as the deputy head, according to the statement.
“Other members of the U.S. Delegation include senior officials and technical experts from the Department of State, the Department of Labor, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the United States Agency for International Development,” the statement said.
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