“As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBT citizens from the violence and oppression of hateful, foreign ideology,” said Trump at the 2016 Republican National Convention. These words seem almost laughable to a community who has faced repeated attacks from this administration, starting when less than two hours after his inauguration, all mention of LGBTQ issues were removed from the White House official website.
Trump’s latest ideas regarding the LGBTQ community have, unsurprisingly, been extremely disappointing if not terrifying to the very people he swore to protect. It started when the New York Times published an article quoting a White House memo that detailed a plan to remove protection and recognition for transgender citizens under United States civil rights laws; on the table is a proposal to create a legal definition of sex to apply under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that states “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
Under the Obama administration, in a huge step toward federal equality for the LGBTQ community, the identities of transgender citizens were included in the legal definition of sex, giving them protection of their civil rights. The Trump administration now wants to roll back this protection for over 150,000 teens and 1.4 million adults who identify as transgender by narrowing that definition to “a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth,” adding that “the sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.”
Narrowing this definition of sex undermines the fact that discrimination against someone’s gender identity or sexual orientation is entirely rooted in unrealistic “sex-based” expectations assigned to each gender. For example, when someone discriminates against a transgender woman, it is likely due to the fact that they personally believe someone born with male genitalia should only be permitted to present as masculine in their clothing, hairstyle, etc.; this act of prejudice is a matter of complete individual preference for how others appear corresponding to their sex, and should therefore not be permitted under sex-based anti-discrimination laws.
This new plan would eliminate legal recognition and protection for transgender individuals, who, having already faced attempts to exclude them from the nation’s health care laws and the military, are now being told that their identity itself is not welcome in the eyes of the government. Should this revision pass, transgender students could be required to use a bathroom or locker room that does not correspond with their identity. This will inevitably lead to an increase in discrimination in the classroom setting and correspondingly, a probable rise in suicide rates which already effect the transgender community at a disproportionate rate compared to other minorities; 41%-50% of transgender individuals attempt suicide at some point in their lifetime, and almost all are likely to be the result of either bullying and discrimination, isolation, or body dysmorphia.
Instead of the bright future this community hoped for after the legalization of gay marriage, my fellow LGBTQ individuals and I are once again forced to fight blatant, institutionalized homophobia to simply exist as equals in the United States. Whether you are an ally or a member of the LGBTQ community, now is the time to use your voice to say that no matter what this administration does to try and erase and push the Transgender community back to the shadows again; we will not disappear. Transgender individuals deserve to be treated with respect and humanity just like every other person in America. Regardless of skin color, gender, sexuality, or religious beliefs, everyone deserves to be seen, heard, treated with civility, protected, cared for. Trans* rights are human rights. That’s the tea.