Donald Trump’s America Is Not Safe For LGBTQ People
Electing a Republican is expected to be dangerous to LGBT people, even if, like Donald Trump, they claim otherwise. Trump made a big show during his pre-election campaign (as distinct from the campaigning he’s continued to do since the election) of pretending he supports rights for LGBT Americans — for instance, saying that North Carolina’s HB2, a bill singling out transgender individuals and making safe access to bathrooms a controversy, was a bad idea and that there had been no problems warranting the law.
However, as on so many issues, Trump did an 180 on that point later, expressing support for the state’s law, which the ACLU calls “an unprecedented attack on LGBT rights.
Of course, Donald Trump doesn’t draft, sign, or vote on North Carolina state law — but directly or indirectly, through legislative action or by attitudes promoted by his political rhetoric, he has harmed LGBT people across the nation. Here’s a look at some of the specific harm that Trump has done.
Most recently, there is Trump’s National Day of Prayer activity. Trump’s order on religious freedom — actually an order to the IRS to look the other way when tax-exempt religious organizations defy the laws that govern endorsements from the pulpit — is one of many directives from the Trump White House that stopped short of what had been promised, but what was included is harmful enough.
The order was expected to include protections for businesses that practice discrimination and call it religious speech, but this was not explicitly included. However, the order may be expected to have some indirect effect on LGBT rights if extremist religious groups do take it as a license to explicitly endorse anti-LGBT candidates.
The order carries further implications, though: while it doesn’t actually include what is often termed a ‘license to discriminate,’ it does order the executive branch to recognize
the fundamental right to religious liberty as Americans’ first freedom
which may be interpreted as placing religious liberty above the responsibility to comply with anti-discrimination laws.
Further, it orders the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services to consider amending certain regulations to “address conscience-based objections.” In context, this is directed to one specific piece of U.S. law regarding preventative health care, including immunizations, but could have direct implications, depending on exactly what amendments are proposed, especially since ‘conscience-based objections’ tend to address a relatively narrow field of matters (birth control and abortion are a likely focus here, and simply turning away LGBT people has been claimed as a matter of ‘conscience’ from certain extremists). Further, one ‘conscience’ clause could open the door for more, allowing insurers, health services, and even emergency services to turn away people they believe are sinning by merely existing.
That’s just one order. Donald Trump claimed that his ban on travelers from Muslim-majority countries would protect LGBT people in the US., suggesting these immigrants are likely to target and opress Americans based on race, gender, or sexual orientation.
Writing for the Advocate in January, Sasha W. of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance addressed this, saying that the order is harmful, rather than helpful, to LGBTQ people. Sasha describes the ban as preventing asylum seekers whose gender or sexuality might endanger them in their country of origin from seeking safety in the U.S., and further as promoting violence against LGBTQ API communities.
…an Indian trans woman harassed by immigration officials; of a Pakistani traveler being invasively examined by TSA, in her body and belongings; of a queer South Asian organizer whose home was raided; of a Bangladeshi traveler who has been on the no-fly list since she was a child.
Another action of Trump’s administration was to revoke directives from the Obama administration protecting transgender kids in schools. According to the Washington Post, Obama’s actions were directives to Federal courts to consider denial of bathroom access to transgender kids to be discrimination based on sex or gender, and thus a violation of Title IX anti-discrimination laws. In February, Trump rescinded these directives, leaving transgender teens at the mercy of local and state decisions.
A number of legislative decisions since Trump took office, that are not actually his direct actions but that may have been facilitated or promoted by his rhetoric, policies, and politics, have also harmed LGBT rights. For instance, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case of Gavin Grimm, a transgender student who was fighting for the rights of all transgender kids to have safe access to appropriate bathrooms in their schools.
SCOTUS had an opportunity to affirm transgender rights in a massive way, and elected not to do so.
Of course, SCOTUS hears only a fraction of all cases appealed to the court per year, but the 100 Days And Me blog holds that it is a direct result of the Trump administration’s anti-LGBT stances and the above-noted withdrawal of protections for trans kids, noting that most transgender youth feel unsafe at school, and many have faced physical abuse or bullying.
Again, in regard to transgender rights, it’s important to remember that words have effects, especially when they come from someone in a high position, such as President of the United States. Trump’s vocalizaion of support for North Carolina’s HB2 may have promoted the legislation and encouraged similar bills in other states. The National Conference of State Legislatures lists sixteen states considering similar legislation in their 2017 sessions, defining ‘gender’ or ‘sex’ by the sex assigned to the person at birth, regardless of gender identity.
Fourteen states are specifically considering legislation that will limit transgender students’ rights at school, two of which are openly a response to the aforementioned withdrawal of Obama-era instructions regarding bathroom access.
Though Trump has taken both sides also on the issue of marriage equality, the mere fact that he suggested the ruling could be overturned and that picking SCOTUS nominees who would do so leaves married couples in a place of uncertainty about the ongoing legal status of their marriage and what that means for their children, end-of-life plans, and legal status in an emergency.
From a Fox News transcript this January:
[Chris] WALLACE: But — but just to button this up very quickly, sir, are you saying that if you become president, you might try to appoint justices to overrule the decision on same-sex marriage?
TRUMP: I would strongly consider that, yes.
Though it’s unlikely that the ruling on marriage rights could ever be reversed at this point, the fact that someone in Trump’s position of power would even suggest he’d ‘consider’ actions in that direction promotes anti-gay rhetoric and discrimination in an era where many Americans thought that range of sentiments was on its way out.
In fact, just this week, a bill in Alabam became law, permitting adoption agencies to turn away same-sex couples, according to AL. It’s another piece of legislation in which Trump may have had no direct hand, but that is supported by his rhetoric and by the stances his administration takes.
One of the most obvious actions Donald Trump has taken against LGBT rights was also one of his first as the Republican nominee: the appointment of Mike Pence as Vice President. Pence, who is known for promoting ‘religious freedom’ legislation as a cover for LGBTQ discrimination, for promoting the idea of jailing same-sex couples who applied for marriage licenses, and for promoting state funding of conversion therapy, was labeled by LGBTQ Nation last year as
…far and away the most anti-gay candidate to run on a national GOP ticket, which is saying a lot.
Pence is hardly Trump’s only anti-LGBT appointment, either. According to Time, America’s newest SCOTUS member, Neil Gorsuch, used his dissertation for his Doctorate of Philosophy to share his view that the U.S. Constitution does not protect same-sex marriage, and Trans Equality warned last month that Trump’s appointee to run the Civil Rights office of the Health and Human Services Department, Roger Severino,
…takes pride in being a stark opponent of the LGBTQ community and has made it clear that his number one priority is to vilify and degrade us.
This was based on such actions by Severino as an opposition to an anti-discrimination clause, which he called an “abuse of power” and described as requiring people to “pledge allegiance” to a “radical new gender ideology.”
Aside from his own legislative activities and his (and his administration’s) effect on legislation across the country, Donald Trump’s election has promoted a certain supremacist ideology that is anti-woman, anti-POC, anti-immigrant, and anti-LGBTQ (among others — perhaps it would be shorter to say ‘pro-white Christian American wealthy male and anti-everyone else). This doesn’t merely have legislative effects. NBC says that reported hate crimes are on the rise, with specifically a rise in attacks against Jewish people, Muslims, and LGBTQ individuals.
Through his legislation, his appointments, his own stated views, and the stimulation of his supporters, particularly the white supremacist portion of his base, Donald Trump is making America a less safe place for LGBTQ people, and it won’t stop until the power is taken from him.