Jill Biden has been criticised for presenting an award to a transgender woman on International Women’s Day.
Alba Rueda, an Argentinian politician, was one of 11 recipients chosen to receive the International Women of Courage Award.
The awards, which were presented by the First Lady and Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the White House, paid tribute to women around the world “working to build a brighter future for all”.
Ms Rueda, 46, became the first openly transgender Argentinian politician to hold a senior position in government.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the Republican Governor of Arkansas, led conservative criticism of the ceremony online.
She wrote on Twitter:
That was a reference to the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson last year when the definition of “woman” became a point of contention between Republicans and Democrats.
Ms Rueda served as Undersecretary of Diversity Policies in the country’s Ministry of Women, Genders and Diversity between Jan 2020 and May 2022.
Currently, she is the foreign ministry’s special envoy for sexual orientation and gender identity.
In a ceremony at the White House, Ms Rueda was introduced as a “transgender woman who was kicked out of classrooms, barred from sitting for exams, refused job opportunities, subjected to violence, and rejected by her family.”
The audience was told that “in the face of these challenges, she worked to end violence and discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community in Argentina.”
Following the White House ceremony, conservative radio personality Dana Loesch, former spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association, accused the First Lady of encouraging “the diminishment of women on International Women’s Day”.
At the ceremony, Mrs Biden said: “Girls everywhere need to know that there are women fighting for them and winning.
“Opening doors, transforming schools and communities and governments, building a better world for all of us.”
Mr Blinken said: “Around the world women, in all of their diversity, are often the ones on the front lines of change. And yet, at the same time, they face still greater obstacles to their political participation.
“To our honourees, the United States is proud to be by your side, as you and others wage those hundred small battles, day in, day out. And we will be there and be there with you for the long haul.”
Other award recipients included 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.
Among them was Yulia Paievska, a Ukrainian medic who last year recorded harrowing bodycam footage showing her team’s efforts to save those who were wounded during Russia’s bombardment of the city of Mariupol.
Ms Paievska was detained soon after by pro-Russia forces and held for three months.
A new group award named for the late Madeleine Albright, the first female US Secretary of State, was given to the women and girls of Iran, who have been protesting against their government since last September.