Trump/Pence and The Trans Community

| Nov 15, 2016
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What LGBT People have to lose in a Trump-Pence Administration

“What do you have to lose”?

As a person who has lived most of my life ostensibly as a cisgender white male, I readily admit that upon transition I was hit with blunt force the realization that as a transgender female I had suddenly lost not only my civil rights, my societal status, but suddenly earned a societal stigma. It was a shock to have things, respect, take them for granted and then suddenly lose them! What did I do, other than be honest with myself and express that honesty?

I’ve spent the bulk of the last 15 years working to gain back all those rights , that societal respect I had as a human being, not only for myself, but for all for whom I am classified, transgender people. Transgender people are a subset of the larger LGBTQ group and since the majority of T’s also fall into the LGBQ category we have all the same challenges plus a lot more!

The 2016 election results with a Trump-Pence Administration were crushing and threaten to set the LGBT movement back not only the amazing 8 years of the Obama Administration, but with a reactionary Supreme Court take us back the middle of the last Century.

Vice-President Elect Mike Pence, a born again Christian, is perhaps one of the most anti-LGBTQ political crusaders to serve in Congress and as governor of a state.  Perhaps best known for signing the draconian anti-LGBTQ “religious liberty” law in Indiana last year, “he supported “conversion therapy” as a member of Congress, and later, as a columnist and radio host, he gave a speech in which he said that marriage equality would lead to “societal collapse,” and called homosexuality “a choice. ” Stopping gays from marrying wasn’t biased, he said, but was rather about compelling “God’s idea.””

Since Trump is not known for his knowledge or any kind of depth on policy issues one can reasonably suggest that Pence would have tremendous influence on social policies. Even before the election there had been speculation suggesting that Pence could be “the most powerful vice ever.” With Friday’s announcement (Nov 11) that he is replacing Chris Christie as chairman of Trump’s transition team, filling all the major positions in the incoming Trump administration, his power and status has increased geometrically! (I have few good things to say about Chris Christie, but I can say that he is not a religious ideologue)

So, who else is taking a lead on Trumps Transition Team?

Vice-Chairman Ben Carson who has compared homosexuality to pedophilia and incest.

Vice-Chairman Newt Gingrich who has consistently attacked  LGBTQ rights as “gay fascism” and “the new fascism.”

Perhaps the most onerous person in Trumps leadership is Ken Blackwell who had already been appointed to lead domestic policy on the transition team. The former Ohio secretary of state, Blackwell has compared homosexuality to arson and kleptomania, which he called “compulsions.”

Ken Blackwell, now a senior fellow at the Family Research Council (FRC), who will be handling domestic issues as the team discusses the administration’s priorities for its first hundred days. The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled as an anti-gay hate group thanks to its promotion of “discredited research and junk science” meant to “denigrate LGBT people.”

It was reported that Trump was hands-off on LGBTQ issues at the Republican National Convention, resulting in the most anti-LGBTQ platform ever, a platform that affirmed their support for discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ bills in North Carolina and Mississippi targeting the transgender community. The platform in two separate amendments calls for legislation to prevent transgender people from “using public restrooms that align with their gender identity,” arguing speciously that it is “illegal and dangerous” and “alien to America’s history and traditions.” Based on the RNCC Platform, Statements for Trump, Pence and those leaders on his transition team, here is what we can expect from Trump’s first 100 days in office.

President-elect Donald Trump released his “Contract With the American Voter” in October, his “100-day action plan to Make America Great Again,” is an overview of what the administration will begin to implement in his first months in office. This “contract”, for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Americans signals a complete reversal of eight years of progress for the LGBTQ community under President Obama.

Overturning Marriage Equality

While nothing in Trump’s 100-day plan explicitly states he’ll try to roll back same-sex marriage rights, it does state he will “begin the process of selecting a replacement for [Supreme Court] Justice Scalia … who will uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution.” In the past, Trump has also said he would “strongly consider” appointing Supreme Court justices committed to overturning the ruling that legalized same-sex marriage.

Mike Pence as noted has a long and clear track record of anti-same-sex-marriage views. From declaring that that same-sex marriage would bring upon “societal collapse,” speaking out against the 2013 repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act and trying (unsuccessfully) in 2014 to block a same-sex marriage court ruling in his home state of Indiana, Pence also tried — and again failed — to amend the state’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

So, would a Trump Supreme Court overturn Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide?

“Virtually nothing is impossible in the United States, but it’s not likely,” HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow said. “Congress and President-elect Trump do not have the power to unilaterally undo marriage equality.”

Warbelow also emphasized that while Trump has stated plans to install a conservative Supreme Court justice to fill the seat left vacant by Antonin Scalia, who died earlier this year, all five of the judges who ruled in favor of same-sex marriage are still on the bench.

 Cancellation of Obama’s Executive Actions

Of all the bullet points in Trump’s “Contract With the American Voter,” the most worrisome for the LGBTQ community may be his stated plan to “cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama.”

At risk is the very real possibility that Trump would rescind President Obama’s executive order banning federal contractors from engaging in anti-LGBT discrimination. This was very near and dear to me personally as I watched President Obama sign Executive Order 13672 on July 21, 2014, that also added “gender identity” to memorialize the transgender nondiscrimination policy throughout the civilian federal workforce.

Some of the Obama administration’s major protections for the LGBTQ community have taken the form of memorandums and final rules — “such as this spring’s double whammy memos for the Department of Education (DOE) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which clarified that gender identity is a protected class in terms of health care coverage and equal access to education facilities.”

 Could Trump undo those rulings, causing insurance companies to drop transgender patients and forcing trans students to use bathrooms and showers based on their assigned sex at birth?

 “NBC OUT spoke with Lambda Legal Law & Policy Director Jennifer Pizer, who focused on the use of the word “unconstitutional” in Trump’s plan.

“There have been wild claims by some critics of the Obama administration that many policies and actions taken by agencies and the White House have been unconstitutional. That’s simply not true,” Pizer said. “In the ‘contract,’ this stated promise is only to cancel ‘unconstitutional’ actions. If that promise is kept, the Trump administration will not be withdrawing much at all.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean that Trump and Pence won’t try to re-clarify the HHS and DOE rulings anyway. But if they do, Pizer added, “It will not be because they were unconstitutional. It will be because the new administration disagrees.”

“Regardless of whether Trump tries to reconfigure the federal policies on transgender equality, there will always be legal recourse to challenge the new policies.”

“Keep in mind that much of the Obama Administration’s activity was interpretation and enforcement of federal statutes based on court decisions,” Pizer told NBC OUT. “Those decisions will remain in place whether the new administration changes those regulations and ‘guidance’ or not.”

Repeal of Affordable Care Act

Trump states he will “repeal and replace Obamacare” in his 100 Day Plan. He plans to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Obamacare, with “Health Savings Accounts” and “the ability to purchase health insurance across state lines.” This particular provision is poised to impact millions of Americans, not just the LGBTQ community.

“But for LGBTQ people specifically, the repeal of the ACA, … has caused fear around coverage for gender-reaffirming care, spending caps on coverage for HIV-related treatment and the impact on Medicaid and Medicare for low-income segments of the community.”

“They can do it, and they intend to do it,” HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy said, “But if you’re in an ACA health care plan right now on the exchange, or you’re in a Medicaid program, you’re not going to have your health care cut off in the immediate term. If they are successful in repealing it, there’s going to be some sort of transition period.”

It is very clear that if and when Trump does repeal the ACA, the harshest impact will be felt on LGBTQ people with lower incomes as well as those with pre-existing conditions. Although Trump has said that he wants to keep the ban on pre-existing conditions, I would be wary.

“Repeal of this law very likely means a return to the bad old days of pre-existing condition exclusions from health insurance and denials of insurance outright,” Pizer of Lambda Legal said. “Repeal also very likely would mean an end to the important federal subsidies for people of limited means. Leaving Medicaid to states likely would mean a dramatic change in that program and deeply problematic decreases in care for those who are most vulnerable.”

“And as one HIV-positive man told NBC OUT on Wednesday at an anti-Trump protest in New York, losing the ACA could mean a return to insurance spending caps — a dangerous prospect for people living with the virus or people living with chronic conditions that result in high health-care costs.”

“If they roll back the spending caps, I can never have a lapse in employment. My pills cost over $3,000 a month,” Christen Madsen II said, while standing outside Trump Tower. “And they used to be able to put a cap on the amount insurance would cover for prescriptions, so that could come back.”

 Other Rights We’ve Gained under President Obama not listed in Trumps 100 day plan

Military Service

David Stacy, of HRC, said the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” is “exceedingly unlikely.”

“One of the reasons is, openly LGB service in the military has been phenomenally successful … The military leadership of our country feels good about it,” he explained.

“Transgender military service has just begun, and I think that is a little more at risk … But once the military starts to implement something, it takes a lot of energy to change course,” Stacy added.

Hate Crimes

As for criminal justice, it is unlikely that even this Congress would overturn the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, but the new Department of Justice leadership probably would not pursue hate crime investigations as fiercely as the Obama administration has. DOJ efforts to reach out to LGBT communities would likely no longer continue and I doubt if my local FBI office would continue to to have internal Pride celebrations and invite transgender and LGB people to speak and address the staff.


“Vice President-elect Mike Pence told evangelical radio host Dr. James Dobson on Wednesday that “The Trump-Pence administration will be dedicated to preserving … the freedom of religion that’s enshrined in our Bill of Rights.” Pence issued the phrase in response to questions about whether his administration would work to make sure religious businesses don’t have to cover birth control for employees, but critics note “religious freedom” bills can result in discrimination against LGBTQ people.”

There are still no federal anti-discrimination clause protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination in public facilities. But many states, counties and cities do have anti-discrimination laws in place that specify sexual orientation and gender identity — those will most likely not be affected by the new administration.

However, existing routes for gaining recourse when employment and housing discrimination occur may be altered.

“What will likely happen with this new administration is that they will not enforce those laws in the same way as President Obama’s administration,” Warbelow explained. “The Department of Justice, the EEOC, the Department of Labor will not as robustly enforce and they will unfortunately turn their back on the LGBT community — but people still can have legal recourse and file those complaints.”

Legal recourse, but with Scalia inspired judges, new EEOC commissioners, that may be a pipe dream!

Going Forward

While LGBTQ Americans wait for more of President-elect Trump’s policy plans to be revealed, the hope is that he will make good on his victory speech promise to be “president for all Americans” — includes LGBTQ Americans. I don’t think that we should wait, we need to be prepared to fight to expose the transphobia, homophobia, misogyny, the racism that permeates Trump. We must unite among ourselves, with other at risk demographics and not accept losing what we have fought so hard to gain, “The American Dream,” Respect, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness!

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Category: Transgender Opinion, Transgender Politics


About the Author ()

Babs at 76 passed away in 2019. She was a member of the Executive Committee of the Democratic National Committee, Deputy Vice Chair of the NJ Democratic State Committee and Political Director of the Gender Rights Advocacy Association of NJ. She served on the Executive Committee of Trans United 4 Obama. She has served as Vice Chair of the DNC Eastern Caucus, was President of NJ Stonewall Democrats, Co-Chair of National Stonewall Democrats Federal PAC Board, Vice-Chair of Garden State Equality, Executive Board member of National Stonewall Democrats as Chair of the DNC Relations Committee and a member of the NJ Civil Unions Review Commission.

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