During his divisive campaign, President Donald Trump presented himself as more of a moderate by disavowing conservative Republican orthodoxy and making a promise to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.
He adhered to this promise when he committed to enforcing the executive order issued by the Obama administration that serves to protect LGBTQ individuals from workplace discrimination. In contrast to issuing an immigration order, having questionable conflicts of interests regarding foreign policy and appointing Cabinet members, many of whom have been unfavorable to the public, Trump’s promise to the LGBTQ community may have served as a sign of hope for the marginalized community.
However, President Trump evidently turned his back on his promise to the LGBTQ community. Officials from the departments of Education and Justice notified the U.S. Supreme Court Feb. 22, that they would be rescinding the memos the Obama administration had issued during the last two years in reference to transgender students rights. The memos significantly spoke out against prohibiting transgender students from using facilities that align with their gender identity, which is a violation of federal anti-discrimination laws.
The Trump administration entitled the letter, “Dear colleague,” to nation’s public schools, yet it does not offer guidance, as this was rescinded completely. These actions are hypocritical and only reflect that the new administration weighs issues of its self interest more than issues that affect one in five students who identify as transgender.
An integral part of this memo of guidance instructed school officials to allow transgender students to use restrooms based on the gender with which they identify. The rollbacks are consequential and dangerous on the part of this administration.
It signals to the LGBTQ community and allies that the progress the community has made in the past decade is being threatened and that the movement of resistance must be strengthened to fight against a ruling that only encourages violence against transgender students who face oppression in all institutions.
By rescinding the memos, the Trump administration sends a clear message to students of the transgender community: they are not safe in the institutions that are meant to allow for growth and serve as a sanctuary. This is not only a violation of human rights, but an attack on the freedoms of the LGBTQ community who have only just begun to see progress. As a nation, we cannot stand by as the administration calls this a federal issue. How can we foster an inclusive environment in schools when a whole community of students who are already susceptible to violence and oppressive measures now face new concerns?
There is no justification. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Vice President Mike Pence have been known for slander against the LGBTQ community. As they now reside in positions of power and continue to influence President Trump, it is becoming more clear that President Trump regards them as his confidantes. By appointing Jeff Sessions and Pence to these positions of power and placing them on a pedestal that enables them to wield this power in a destructive manner, President Trump has proven that he is not an advocate for gay and transgender rights. He has made it clear that he will continue to turn his back on our democracy and focus on immigration orders, and will continue the silencing of marginalized communities.
Instead of creating bridges, he will build walls. We are going backwards, and our progress is being reversed as each day passes with the current administration that has never listened to our concerns but rather drawn upon its own conservative ideals to make its own ideal America. We must take it upon ourselves to organize and make our voices heard against the injustices that pose a threat to the most basic rights of our fellow Americans.