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A row has erupted online after First Lady Jill Biden gave a transgender woman from Argentina a ‘Women of Courage’ award during an International Women’s Day ceremony. 

Biden yesterday presented awards to 11 recipients at the White House, one of whom was Alba Rueda, an Argentinian politician who became the first openly transgender lawmaker in Argentina to hold a senior political position in the country.

Rueda, the Special Representative on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity of Argentina’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has spent her political career fighting to end the discrimination of LGBTQ people in Argentina.

But in response to Biden presenting Rueda with the ‘Women of Courage’ award, social media users have accused the First Lady of ‘encouraging the diminishment of women’ and ‘erasing women’.

Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who has been a vocal critic of President Joe Biden, tweeted: ‘It’s International Women’s Day – a good time to remember that the Democrats can’t even tell you what a woman is.’ 

Jill Biden yesterday presented awards to 11 recipients at the White House, one of whom was Alba Rueda (centre with Biden and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken), an Argentinian politician who became the first openly transgender lawmaker in Argentina to hold a senior political position in the country.

Jill Biden yesterday presented awards to 11 recipients at the White House, one of whom was Alba Rueda (centre with Biden and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken), an Argentinian politician who became the first openly transgender lawmaker in Argentina to hold a senior political position in the country.

Jill Biden congratulates Alba Rueda, the first openly transgender politician in Argentina, as she is honored at the 17th annual International Women of Courage at the White House on Wednesday

Jill Biden congratulates Alba Rueda, the first openly transgender politician in Argentina, as she is honored at the 17th annual International Women of Courage at the White House on Wednesday

Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who has been a vocal critic of President Joe Biden, tweeted: 'It's International Women's Day - a good time to remember that the Democrats can't even tell you what a woman is'

Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who has been a vocal critic of President Joe Biden, tweeted: ‘It’s International Women’s Day – a good time to remember that the Democrats can’t even tell you what a woman is’

Radio host Dana Loesch, a former spokesperson for the NRA, tweeted: 'Nice of FLOTUS to encourage the diminishment of women on "international women's day". Erasing women is abusive'

Radio host Dana Loesch, a former spokesperson for the NRA, tweeted: ‘Nice of FLOTUS to encourage the diminishment of women on “international women’s day”. Erasing women is abusive’

Sanders has previously said that Biden ‘is the first man to surrender his presidency to a woke mob that can’t even tell you what a woman is’.

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Radio host Dana Loesch, a former spokesperson for the NRA, tweeted: ‘Nice of FLOTUS to encourage the diminishment of women on “international women’s day”. Erasing women is abusive.’  

Meanwhile, Karoline Leavitt, the Republican nominee for the House in New Hampshire who lost against Democrat Congressman Chris Pappas in November, tweeted: ‘Why are the Democrats working overtime to push the trans agenda? 

Other Twitter users said it was ‘disgraceful’ that Rueda, a transgender woman, received a ‘Women of Courage Award. 

‘There is a war on women,’ one said, while another wrote: ‘Imagine this sort of thing is a real slap in the face to real women nation wide.’ 

Another Twitter user wrote: ‘Honest question to my followers: Are you okay with this? Are you alright with a biological man getting this award over a biological woman.’ 

Rueda was presented the award at the ceremony alongside 10 other recipients from Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Poland and Ukraine.

Among the winners was the first female general to serve in the Mongolian armed forces, along with advocates for protecting indigenous lands in Costa Rica and ending discrimination against people with disabilities in Malaysia.

Rueda, who featured in TIME Magazine’s TIME 100 list in 2022 and the BBC’s 100 Women list in 2021, served as Argentina’s Undersecretary of Diversity Policies between January 2020 and May 2022.

Rueda was born into poverty and came out as transgender at the age of 16. She started to study philosophy at the University of Buenos Aires but she left before graduated because of transphobia there.

Rueda played a ‘fundamental role’ in the trans labor quote bill that reserves one per cent of public sector jobs for transgender people in Argentina, which came into law in June 2021, the State Department said.

Rueda and the 10 other women were praised by Biden for showing courage while fighting for their rights and called on men to 'be partners' with women and support them in their cause

Rueda and the 10 other women were praised by Biden for showing courage while fighting for their rights and called on men to ‘be partners’ with women and support them in their cause

Biden stands on stage with the recipients of the 17th annual International Women of Courage (IWOC) Award during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington on Wednesday

Biden stands on stage with the recipients of the 17th annual International Women of Courage (IWOC) Award during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington on Wednesday 

Rueda and the 10 other women were praised by Biden for showing courage while fighting for their rights and called on men to ‘be partners’ with women and support them in their cause.

‘As much as we need women who are willing to speak up, we need more men who are willing to listen and act,’ the first lady said.

‘We need more men to hold each other accountable when their sisters are being hurt or left behind,’ she said at a White House ceremony for the 2023 recipients of the International Women of Courage Awards. 

‘We need more men who nurture families, who feed and teach and mentor, who build safer communities. We need more men who know that caring, collaboration and kindness are signs of strength, not weakness.

‘Men, we need you to support the women who are fighting for their rights and to lift up those who have been silenced,’ she continued. ‘Be partners, be partners with women. Become the ‘men of courage’ we need. Only then will we be able to build a world where men and women are equal and all people are free.’

Among the group of recipients was Yuliia Paievska, a Ukrainian medic who last year recorded reams of harrowing bodycam footage showing her team’s efforts to save those who were wounded during Russia’s bombardment of the city of Mariupol. 

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Paievska gave the footage to Associated Press journalists, who were the last international team in the city, on a tiny data card.

The journalists fled Mariupol with the data card and shared the images with the world. Paievska was detained soon after by pro-Russia forces and held for three months.

Rueda and the 10 other women were praised by Biden (pictured) for showing courage while fighting for their rights and called on men to 'be partners' with women and support them in their cause

Rueda and the 10 other women were praised by Biden (pictured) for showing courage while fighting for their rights and called on men to ‘be partners’ with women and support them in their cause

Polish journalist Bianka Zalewska (left), Ukrainian medic Yuliia Paievska (center) and Malaysian Senator Datuk Ras Adiba Radzi, hold hands as Paievska is recognized during the International Women of Courage Award ceremony on Wednesday

Polish journalist Bianka Zalewska (left), Ukrainian medic Yuliia Paievska (center) and Malaysian Senator Datuk Ras Adiba Radzi, hold hands as Paievska is recognized during the International Women of Courage Award ceremony on Wednesday 

A new group award, named for Madeleine Albright, who died last March after making history in 1997 by becoming the first female U.S. secretary of state, was given to the women and girls of Iran, who have been protesting against their government since last September.

Nationwide protests erupted in Iran after the September 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in the custody of Iran’s morality police. Amini was accused of violating Iran’s strict dress code for women by wearing her headscarf improperly.

The International Women of Courage Award, created in 2007 by then-U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, recognizes women who show exceptional courage, strength and leadership while advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equity and equality, and the empowerment of women and girls. More than 180 women from 80-plus countries have received the award since its inception.

Biden moved Wednesday’s ceremony from its traditional home at the State Department because she ‘wanted to bring the stories of these incredible women to the biggest stage we could, and that is, of course, the White House,’ said Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, who also spoke at the ceremony.

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