The Discrimination Administration | National Center for Transgender Equality
Trump’s record of action against transgender people
President Trump has been the most anti-transgender President in American history, rolling back important advances made over several decades, appointing clearly and actively anti-transgender senior officials, and terrifying a lot of good transgender people and their families.
While he has sometimes claimed he is “supportive” of LGBT people, his actions say otherwise. Again and again, President Trump has appointed people who have said shocking and mean-spirited things about transgender people and who have worked to take away transgender people’s rights. The Trump administration has already taken numerous actions that harm transgender people, that undermine important protections, and even taken actions to erase transgender people from government surveys and therefore government programs.
Transgender people are not alone. The Trump Administration has targeted others for who they are: LGB people, Muslims, immigrants and women are other examples of who has been specifically targeted by President Trump and the federal agencies he now controls.
We have divided President Trump’s harmful actions into two lists. The first lists the targeted anti-transgender actions, many of which really target the entire LGBT community. We have tried to be comprehensive, though there are likely additional actions that have not yet been made public. The second lists some of the major attacks on broader populations, or attacks on common-sense policies that have a disproportionate effect on marginalized communities like trans people. At a time like this, we must all stand for each other. An injustice to one is an injustice to all.
Anti-Transgender and Anti-LGBT Actions
- February 18, 2018: The US Department of Education announced it will summarily dismiss complaints from transgender students involving exclusion from school facilities and other claims based solely on gender identity discrimination.
- January 18, 2018: The Department of Health and Human Services‘ Office of Civil Rights opened a “Conscience and Religious Freedom Division” that will promote discrimination by health care providers who can cite religious or moral reasons for denying care.
- December 14: Staff at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were instructed not to use the “transgender,” “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “fetus,” “evidence-based,” and “science-based” in official documents.
- October 6: The Justice Department released a sweeping “license to discriminate” allowing federal agencies, government contractors, government grantees, and even private businesses to engage in illegal discrimination, as long as they can cite religious reasons for doing so.
- October 5: The Justice Department released a memo instructing Department of Justice attorneys to take the legal position that federal law does not protect transgender workers from discrimination.
- September 7: The Justice Department filed a legal brief on behalf of the United States in the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing for a constitutional right for businesses to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and, implicitly, gender identity.
- August 25: President Trump released a memo directing Defense Department to move forward with developing a plan to discharge transgender military service members and to maintain a ban on recruitment.
- July 26: President Trump announced, via Twitter, that “the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”
- July 26: The Justice Department filed a legal brief on behalf of the United States in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, arguing that the 1964 Civil Rights Act does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or, implicitly, gender identity.
- June 14: The Department of Education withdrew its finding that an Ohio school district discriminated against a transgender girl. The Department gave no explanation for withdrawing the finding, which a federal judge upheld.
- May 2: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a plan to roll back regulations interpreting the Affordable Care Act’s nondiscrimination provisions to protect transgender people.
- April 14: The Justice Department abandoned its historic lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s anti-transgender law. It did so after North Carolina replaced HB2 with a different anti-transgender law known as “HB 2.0.”
- April 4: The Justice and Labor Departments cancelled quarterly conference calls with LGBT organizations; on these calls, which have happened for years, government attorneys share information on employment laws and cases.
- March 31: The Justice Department announced it would review (and likely seek to scale back) numerous civil rights settlement agreements with police departments. These settlements were put in places where police departments were determined to be engaging in discriminatory and abusive policing, including racial and other profiling. Many of these agreements include critical protections for LGBT people.
- March: The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) removed links to four key resource documents from its website, which informed emergency shelters on best practices for serving transgender people facing homelessness and complying with HUD regulations.
- March 28: The Census Bureau retracted a proposal to collect demographic information on LGBT people in the 2020 Census.
- March 24: The Justice Department cancelled a long-planned National Institute of Corrections broadcast on “Transgender Persons in Custody: The Legal Landscape.”
- March 13: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that its national survey of older adults, and the services they need, would no longer collect information on LGBT participants. HHS initially falsely claimed in its Federal Register announcement that it was making “no changes” to the survey.
- March 13: The State Department announced the official U.S. delegation to the UN’s 61st annual Commission on the Status of Women conference would include two outspoken anti-LGBT organizations, including a representative of the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-FAM): an organization designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
- March 10: The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced it would withdraw two important agency-proposed policies designed to protect LGBT people experiencing homelessness.
- One proposed policy would have required HUD-funded emergency shelters to put up a poster or “notice” to residents of their right to be free from anti-LGBT discrimination under HUD regulations.
- The other announced a survey to evaluate the impact of the LGBTQ Youth Homelessness Prevention Initiative, implemented by HUD and other agencies over the last three years. This multi-year project should be evaluated, and with this withdrawal, we may never learn what worked best in the project to help homeless LGBTQ youth.
- March 8: Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) removed demographic questions about LGBT people that Centers for Independent Living must fill out each year in their Annual Program Performance Report. This report helps HHS evaluate programs that serve people with disabilities.
- March 2: The Department of Justice abandoned its request for a preliminary injunction against North Carolina’s anti-transgender House Bill 2, which prevented North Carolina from enforcing HB 2. This was an early sign that the Administration was giving up defending trans people (later, on April 14, it withdrew the lawsuit completely).
- March 1: The Department of Justice took the highly unusual step of declining to appeal a nationwide preliminary court order temporarily halting enforcement of the Affordable Care Act’s nondiscrimination protections for transgender people. The injunction prevents HHS from taking any action to enforce transgender people’s rights from health care discrimination.
- February 22, 2017: The Departments of Justice and Education withdrew landmark 2016 guidance explaining how schools must protect transgender students under the federal Title IX law.
Other Harmful Trump Administration Actions
The Trump administration has taken many other actions to roll back civil rights and health care protections and target vulnerable communities. While not specifically directed at transgender people or gender identity protections, we list them here because it is critically important that we view our quest for transgender equality as intertwined with other social justice movements. These include attacks on reproductive rights, the Affordable Care Act, refugees and other immigrants and the enforcement of civil rights laws. Many of these actions will also disproportionately harm transgender people. These are just a few examples
- Targeting Reproductive Rights: On October 6, 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a regulation allowing employers and insurers to deny coverage for birth control, as long as they can cite religious reasons for doing so. In April, President Trump and Congress overturned a regulation that protected Planned Parenthood, one of the nation’s largest providers of care for transgender people, and other family planning clinics from funding discrimination by states.
- Harming Sexual Assault Survivors. On September 7, 2017, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced she would withdraw historic guidance on schools’ and universities’ responsibilities to address sexual assault and sexual harassment. This is especially dangerous for transgender students, because 47% of transgender adults in the US Transgender Survey were sexual assault survivors.
- Targeting Dreamers for Deportation. On September 5, 2017, President Trump acted to strip hundreds of thousands of Americans and their families of security, stability, and safety by ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Since 2012, nearly 800,000 young adults who grew up in this country were granted a reprieve from the threat of deportation by the DACA program, and with it the ability to move on with their lives and support their families and communities. All of these young Americans are immediately unable to work or plan for the future and are exposed to deportation. Over 75,000 Dreamers are LGBT Americans whose lives could be in danger if they were deported to countries they have not seen since childhood.
- Putting Health Care Out of Reach: On April 13, 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services rolled back numerous Affordable Care Act rules to reduce protections for people seeking and using health insurance. These actions make it harder to enroll in health care plans, allow plans to sharply raise deductibles, and weaken requirements for insurance plans to have in-network providers that serve low-income communities. These changes disproportionately affect people of color and any one with lower incomes, including transgender people. These changes make getting health care coverage harder for people who lose coverage or who depend on community clinics.
- Expanding Immigration Detention: The Department of Homeland Security is vastly expanding the number of immigrants held in immigration detention centers nationwide, while also eliminating protections for health and safety in detention centers. Reducing these protections for immigrants who are being detained is wrong, and it’s especially dangerous for vulnerable transgender immigrants, many of whom are asylum-seekers who risk extreme abuse.
- Banning Refugees Fleeing Danger: On January 27, 2017 and again on March 6, President Trump signed executive orders seeking to ban entry by refugees from certain nations, including Syria, seeking safety in the United States. On June 26, the Supreme Court allowed part of the March executive order to take effect. Arguments before the Supreme Court will happen later in October. We cannot stand for a world where people in danger are denied entry because of who they are, including where they come from or whether they are Muslim or any other religion. LGBT refugees are among the many who are fleeing life-threatening persecution because of who they are or what they believe. Currently, these executive orders are not in effect, as federal judges have put them on hold until the court cases resolve.