President Trump reverses his position
about the transgender community.
2016-APR to 2017-MAR
2016-APR: As presidential candidate, Donald Trump supported protections for transgender persons:
He attended a town-hall-style event, hosted by NBC’s 'Today' show at Rockefeller Center in New York City. At the time, he supported equal rights for transgender people. He responded to a question about North Carolina Bill 2 which was in the news at the time. It repealed city ordinances that protected the LGBT community. Ashley Parker, writing for the New York Times, said:
"Donald J. Trump said ... that transgender people should be allowed to use whatever bathroom they feel most comfortable with — including [those] at Trump Tower in New York."
He referred to North Carolina's Law HB 2 that requires transgender persons to select the washroom that corresponds to their birth-identified gender, not one that corresponds to their current gender identity. He was quoted as saying that trans people should:
" ... use the bathroom they feel is appropriate. ... North Carolina did something -- it was very strong -- and they’re paying a big price. And there’s a lot of problems. And I heard -- one of the best answers I heard was from a commentator yesterday saying, leave it the way it is, right now. ... You leave it the way it is. There have been very few complaints the way it is."
He said that if Caitlyn Jenner -- a high-profile MTF transgender woman -- were to walk into Trump Tower, he would be comfortable with her choosing any bathroom she wanted.
He also said:
"There’s a big move to create new bathrooms [only for transgender people]. First of all, I think that would be discriminatory in a certain way. It would be unbelievably expensive for businesses and for the country. Leave it the way it is."
Greg Mueller, a conservative strategist, later responded to Trump's position, saying:
"There’s a lot of Republicans that are very uncomfortable with this issue, to say the least, or think it’s ridiculous that we’re going down this path and some people believe it is putting our children at risk. For somebody who is trying to build a coalition of conservatives and evangelicals, and ... maybe some Democratic votes to get you into the White House, you are taking somewhat of a political risk in the position he took this morning." 11
Penny Young Nance, the president of the conservative group Concerned Women for America, said Mr. Trump’s remarks illustrated:
"... why conservatives are right to question his judgment. His instincts are wrong on our core values. He has spent his life surrounded by Manhattan elites who have never shopped in a Target [store]. Of course he doesn’t get the outrage. I don’t know if this will ultimately hurt him, but it should." 10
2016-MAY: The Obama administration and a non-profit group also reacted to North Carolina's HB 2 law:
The NC bill requires "... transgender people in public agencies to use the bathrooms consistent with their sex as noted at birth, rather than the bathrooms that fit their current gender identity," 1
2016-MAY-09: Loretta Lynch, the Attorney General, expressed support for transgender individuals throughout the U.S.:
"Some of you have lived freely for decades. Others of you are still wondering how you can possibly live the lives you were born to lead. But no matter how isolated or scared you may feel today, the Department of Justice and the entire Obama Administration wants you to know that: we see you; we stand with you; and we will do everything we can to protect you going forward. Please know that history is on your side. This country was founded on a promise of equal rights for all, and we have always managed to move closer to that promise, little by little, one day at a time. It may not be easy -- but we’ll get there together."
2016-MAY-13: Two U.S. federal departments -- Justice and Education -- released a joint statement to:
"... help schools ensure the civil rights of transgender students." 2
At this time, near the end of Obama's eight years as president, both departments referred to transgender persons by their current name and gender identity. Thus:
"... both federal agencies treat a student’s gender identity as the student’s [current] sex for purposes of enforcing Title IX [of the Education Amendments of 1972]. ... Under Title IX, schools receiving federal money may not discriminate based on a student’s sex, including a student’s transgender status. 2
The Title IX law:
"... protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance. It states that:
'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'." 3
2016-MAY:The Trevor Project is a non-profit group that has two main missions: crisis intervention, and the reduction in the number of suicides by LGBTQ youth. In an undated posting on their web site, they commended the Obama Administration for their:
"... guidance directing all public schools nationwide to allow transgender students to use bathrooms, locker rooms, and other sex-segregated facilities matching their gender identity. At a time when 50% of transgender youth have thought about suicide and 25% ... have made a suicide attempt, this guidance shows how Title IX, the anti-discrimination law in education, should protect transgender youth in school systems and ensure an environment free from harassment and discrimination. As the only national accredited suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization, The Trevor Project hears from transgender students who are constantly facing violence and harassment, fighting to justify their authentic selves to their parents, classmates, teachers, and the public at large. With this guidance, transgender students will now be able to use facilities that match their gender identities, protected from harassment, [and] addressed by the pronouns with which they identify." 4
At that time, Donald Trump was a Republican candidate for the presidency. Although he personally favored transgender individuals having the freedom to use the washroom of their choice, he expressed the opinion that the Obama Administration's decision was an overreach. He suggested that the matter would have been better left up to the individual states to resolve.
2017-FEB-21: One month into President Trump's term, he indicated a probable reversal of Title IX to its original interpretation:
Vanita Gupta was the acting head of the Civil Rights Division at the federal Department of Justice from 2014-OCT until the end of President Obama's term. She was troubled at the possibility of President Trump restoring the original definition of "sex" in Title IX and thus allowing states to reintroduce discrimination against transgender students. She issued a statement saying:
"To cloak this in federalism ignores the vital and historic role that federal law plays in ensuring that all children (including LGBT students) are able to attend school free from discrimination." 6
Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, called the prospect of a retrenchment “outrageous.” She said:
"This is the first day of the president’s second month in office and he is now fully coming after LGBT people. I’m angry; I’m outraged. This is about kids who just want to go to school who just want to be themselves, and to hear the president a week or two ago talk about how supportive he is of LGBT people, it’s just outrageous that he go after trans kids this way." 7
Rob Flaherty, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, a national pro-LGBT group, called it "a hugely consequential decision." 8
Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, told reporters that President Trump believes that:
"This is a states’ rights issue and not one for the federal government." 8
On 2017-FEB-21, the Trump administration was facing a FEB-23 filing deadline for a brief before the U.S. Supreme Court. The case involved Gavin Grimm, a transgender boy living in Virginia.
Nina Totenberg reported for National Public Radio said:
"Gavin Grimm, a 17-year-old senior in Gloucester County ... came out as transgender when he was a freshman in high school. The school principal allowed him to use the boys' bathroom, until some parents complained, and the school board [then] adopted a policy that required students to use [either] the bathroom that corresponds with their biological sex, or a separate single-stall restroom office." 9
Gavin felt that the Board decision was a form of sex discrimination. He sued the Glouceser County School Board in 2015. During 2016-AUG, the 4th. U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in his favor.
However, by a vote of 5 to 3, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the lower court's ruling until the High Court could rule on the case. Justice Stephen Breyer said at the time of the vote that he had joined the majority only "as a courtesy." The Court scheduled a hearing in the case for 2017-MAR. 9
Gavin's case is being handled by lawyer James Essecks of the American Civil Liberties Union. He said:
"It’s astounding to me that this administration would decide that it’s going to stop standing up for young children in crisis. That’s a bad development any way you look at it." 8
ACLU attorney Joshua Block is also working on the Grimm case, He said that he was disappointed by the ruling. He commented:
"What is really sad is there's a good chance that even if Gavin wins this case, it's not going to come in time for him to actually [enjoy the victory while he's still in high school]". 11
Grimm entered his senior year in the fall of 2016.
2017-FEB-22: President Trump's Administration formall rescinded President Obama's protection of transgender students:
The federal Justice and Education departments reversed the guidance given by the Obama administration given earlier in 2016-MAY. The federal departments will once more interpret Title IX as allowing school boards to require that transgender students use restrooms and locker rooms that match their birth-identified gender. The two departments issued a joint letter saying, in part, that the Obama Administration's statements during 2016 did not:
"... contain extensive legal analysis or explain how the position is consistent with the express language of Title IX, nor did they undergo any formal public process. This interpretation has given rise to significant litigation regarding school restrooms and locker rooms. ... [There] must be due regard for the primary role of states and local school districts in establishing educational policy." 9
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that:
"The president has made it clear throughout the campaign that he's a firm believer in states' rights and that certain issues like this are not best dealt with at the federal level." 9
2017-FEB-27: The rate of murders of transgender individuals in the U.S. is rapidly increasing:
GLAAD, a leading national group that promotes LGBT equality, is calling for "increased and accurate media coverage of transgender murders." In an article dated 2017-FEB-27, GLAAD's Senior Strategist, Alex Schmider listed seven transgender people killed during the first two months of 2017. All were women of color who were identified as male at birth, and transitioned to female later in life. He wrote:
"With violence against transgender people at an all-time high and rising, national media coverage is severely lacking. The media must do a better job of reporting these murders and bringing needed attention to a community under vicious and violent attack. In order for people to be aware of the horrific violence affecting the community, the public needs to know it is happening. The media has a responsibility to communicate about the deadly realities faced by transgender people.
2016 overtook 2015 as the deadliest year on record for transgender people in the United States. In 2016, 27 transgender people were killed in the United States and nearly all of the victims were non-white transgender women of color. ... This number does not include transgender people whose deaths were not reported due to misgendering in police reports, news stories, and sometimes by the victim's family." 11
Nick Adams, director of transgender media for GLAAD, noting that violent crimes against transgender individuals target women of color at disproportionately high rates, said:
"Transgender women of color often live at the dangerous intersection of transphobia, racism, sexism and criminalization, which can lead to high rates of poverty, unemployment, and homelessness, putting them at greater risk for violence." 12
I posted the following message on this web site's Facebook group during early 2017-MAR. (A link to that group is in the upper left of this essay.) I wrote:
"I am currently writing ... [about] how Donald Trump -- the candidate -- supported transgender persons, and how Donald Trump -- the President -- now opposes support. ..."
Part of the essay discusses the murders of transgender people in the U.S. -- mostly women of color. These murders, about 2 a month, are receiving a LOT of attention. But one item confuses and troubles me. About 0.6% of people in the U.S. are now or will be transgender later in life. That is almost 2 million persons. Apparently reliable indications are that 41% of them attempt to commit suicide at least once during their lifetime. With almost 800,000 people in the U.S. attempting suicide, surely there must be an enormous number of completed suicides. It seems to me that much much more attention should be placed on preventing suicide than on preventing murders during hate crimes.
2017-MAR-06: U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear the appeal in the case involving Gavin Grimm:
The High Court decided that it would not accept the appeal of the Virginia high school student who wants to use the washroom that corresponded to his current male gender identity. The Court had earlier agreed to accept the case. However, with the reversal of the Trump Administration policy on transgender students, the lower court ruling was nullified.
"I've had so many people come up to me and say that I've changed their minds, I've helped them come to terms with either their own transition or the transition of a loved one. I definitely think I've been seeing a real-world, very positive impact with what I'm doing and with just the conversation in general, and I can't be more overjoyed to hear that. I think just one changed heart is totally worth it."
Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality noted that there are a few similar cases working their way through the federal court system She said:
"It's not a loss. It's really just a temporary setback."
The American Civil Liberties Union posted a statement saying:
"While we're disappointed that the Supreme Court will not be hearing Gavin's case this term, the overwhelming level of support shown for Gavin and trans students by people across the country throughout this process shows that the American people have already moved in the right direction and that the rights of trans people cannot be ignored." 13
Related essays on this web site that you might find interesting:
During 1991 the opening salvo in the drive to legalize gay marriages occurred in Hawaii when three same-sex couples launched a lawsuit "Baehr v. Lewin" seeking marriage licenses from the state. They were unsuccessful.
The U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriages across the United States on 2015-JUN-26. The only exception was American Samoa where most people are U.S. residents, not U.S. citizens. As a result, some High Court rulings do not apply there.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
"Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch Delivers Remarks at Press Conference Announcing Complaint Against the State of North Carolina to Stop Discrimination Against Transgender Individuals," U.S. Department of Justice, 2016-MAY-13, at: https://www.justice.gov/
"U.S. Departments of Justice and Education Release Joint Guidance to Help Schools Ensure the Civil Rights of Transgender Students," U.S. Department of Justice, 2016-MAY-13, at: https://www.justice.gov/