When Donald Trump won the presidential election last year, with Mike Pence as his running mate, there was a cry of despair from the LGBTQ+ community. It was hard to use Facebook for weeks after, because of the outpour of anger, pain, confusion, and terror LGBTQ+ community members shared.
In response to this outpouring, people claimed that Donald Trump was either an ally to LGBTQ+ people or that he didn’t care about the demographic enough to target it. But ultimately, it was all speculation at the time and there wasn’t much to say on the matter.
I wanted to wait to speak about these issues until there was something substantial to report one way or another. The following is information I’ve gathered from the National Center for Transgender Equality.
Towards the end of February, the Departments of Justice and Education withdrew the 2016 guidance explaining that schools have to protect trans students under Title IX of the Civil Rights Act. This leaves an trans youth nationwide vulnerable to discrimination and harassment without repercussion. It also increases the risk factors for trans youth, including increased rates of dropping out, homelessness, and suicide, which are already at epidemic levels in the community.
To make matters worse, we won’t know how exactly how bad it is because the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) opted to withdraw from evaluating a three-year study looking at what is the most effective way to help homeless LGBTQ+ youth. They also removed from their website information about the best practices for handling trans individuals, and no longer advertise an anti-discrimination environment for LGBTQ+ adults.
This kind of erasure has happened pretty much across the board, with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) removing LGBTQ+ questions from their surveys. The Census Bureau has done the same, which means we won’t get national data on our demographic or needs. The Justice Department canceled a “Transgender Persons in Custody” broadcast for the National Institute of Corrections.
None of this, of course, stops LGBTQ+ people from actually existing, but what it does do is stop current approaches to equitably integrating people from different religions, backgrounds, and lived experiences into the shared fabric of life here in America. It also frustrates the countless workers who want some guidance on handling their jobs effectively when it comes to handling LGBTQ+ individuals.
In other news, the Justice of Department dropped its lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s anti-transgender law. The government, or more specifically the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, has step back from defending trans individuals from discrimination lawsuits.
This means I could get fired for being trans, my company could state they fired me for that reason, and there wouldn’t be any repercussion I could pursue. If that doesn’t seem shocking, I imagine they could fire me for my age, religion, or race.
The new healthcare bill seeks to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions, but that won’t actually affect trans people very much. That is because we are already denied coverage, since insurance companies don’t legally have to cover us, even though our needs are considered medically necessary.
That means the takeaway here is everyone is going to feel like a trans person does now, if that healthcare bill passes and I won’t recommend that.
I’m a pragmatist at heart, and I don’t look at what I’ve just written about as being bad or wrong, even though it does have a negative impact on my life. I look at it as being incredibly ineffective, both for my own concerns and for those who aren’t comfortable with the LGBTQ+ spectrum.
What it is is avoidance, it is running away from a complex issue by denying it.
Trying to erase trans identities and policies only serves to create inconsistency where some places are awful for trans people and others have overprotective communities that stifle discussion or disagreement. We get polarity that cascades into cultures divided by states, because we can’t sit at the table like adults and figure it out across the board.
I’m probably not going to hang out with someone who hates me, but I think maybe we should both be able to use the bathroom, get jobs at the same company, and live in the same apartment building.
I’m not going to hate someone who voted Republican, because I don’t know their reasons, but if the stuff above doesn’t sit well with them, then they need to call their representatives and have a talk. If a person doesn’t know how to find that information, it can be a simple google search for “my representatives.”
[Editor’s note: North Dakota Safe Zone Project Spokeswoman]
by Sabrina Hornung
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