News broke on Sunday 21st October 2018 that the Department of Health and Human Services, within the Trump administration, is considering a remodelled version of Title IX (a federal civil rights law) that bans sex discrimination in federal funded schools. This change “would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with”. In short, this change in law would basically erase protection for those who identify as transgender. If the administration moves forward with the proposal other departments such as Labour, Justice and Education will most like adopt the change.
However, this law is not that controversial or unusual when we look at the current state of America’s LGBTQ+ rights. Under federal and most states’ laws, discrimination against LGBTQ+ people based on sexual orientation and gender identity is not explicitly prohibited. In practice this means that those who identify as LGBTQ+ can be refused service in a shop or restaurant, fired from their job and even evicted from their homes.
This is not the first instance of anti LGBTQ+ rhetoric being espoused from the Trump administration. His administration is filled with intensely anti-LGBTQ+ politicians. For example, Vice President Mike Pence (who has claimed that marriage equality would lead to “societal collapse” on the House floor in 2006) and Attorney General Jeff Sessions (who voted against spousal benefits to same-sex couples, and uses the guise of religious freedoms to roll back federal anti-discrimination laws). What is troubling is that these two men both play a key part in shaping federal policy. In addition, in a series of tweets in July 2017 Trump announced that he would be reinstating the ban on trans people joining and serving in the military, citing that trans-health care was too expensive. (It appears as if the Supreme Court have prevented this from becoming law.) Furthermore, at every opportunity the Trump administration has sided with anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination in court. Examples included the Masterpiece Cakeshop case or whether federal law prohibited an employer firing a skydiver instructor based on his sexual orientation.
After the news broke on Sunday there was a 45-minute rally outside the White House on Monday 22nd October 2018. There were several hundred people ranging from activists within the LGBTQ+ community and allies. The overwhelming message of the rally was the slogan “we will not be erased” and it quickly spread onto social media as a hashtag. Speakers at the rally also made it clear that “November is coming” in reference to the mid-term elections on 6th November, encouraging people to vote for a more inclusive and representative Congress.
At Rallies and Online, Transgender People Say They #WontBeErased: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/22/us/transgender-reaction-rally.html?module=inline
The Trump administration's latest anti-transgender action - explained: