The Trump administration is continuing its across-the-board assault on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) rights. The administration has been removing protections in the areas of housing, healthcare and the military.
In the latest example, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a brief with the Supreme Court to deny LGBTQ citizens discrimination protections at work.
“This is a critical point in history,” said Alesdair Ittelson, the law and policy director at interACT: Advocates for Intersex Youth in The Guardian newspaper. “The outcome of this case is going to have a tremendous impact on everyone.”
The Guardian continued: “LGBT people said existing laws meant to shield them are inadequate and poorly enforced – and that if they were to lose what little recourse they have now, the consequences could be devastating.”
The concern is this administration’s anti-LGBT agenda could get traction in the Supreme Court and reverse hard-won civil rights for millions of people.
This is a stark reversal from Trump’s campaign promises, when he openly courted the LGBT vote.
Trump promised LGBTQ protections and Tweeted he “would fight for them.”
Then he filled key administration positions with people who embrace anti-LGBT agenda.
Ben Carson, the head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, removed anti-discrimination requirements from federally funded homeless shelters in July. Shelters can now openly deny gay and transgender individuals without penalty.
This is especially egregious because LGBTQ people are more likely to be homeless.
According to the National Center for Transgender Equality “homelessness is…a critical issue for transgender people; one in five transgender individuals have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives.”
Of the 1.6 million homeless youth in this country, the center estimates that 20 to 40 percent are LGBTQ.
Representative Jennifer Wexton (D-Leesburg) was one of 61 members of the House of Representatives who wrote to Carson to demand an immediate reinstatement of the LGBTQ protections, citing “a real—even deadly—threat to the LGBTQ community, particularly transgender individuals who are already subject to alarming rates of violence and abuse.”
Another attack on the LGBTQ community occurred in May, when the Department of Health and Human Services finalized the “Conscience and Religious Freedom Rule,” allowing healthcare workers to opt out of providing services on religious grounds.
This rule specifically deals with abortion and sterilization, but the broad scope of the rule causes concern women and transgender people will be denied legal medical procedures.
According to Lambda Legal, an American civil rights organization focusing on LGBTQ litigation, gay and transgender people already face discrimination and substandard medical care at alarming rates. The study finds almost 56 percent of lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) respondents and 70 percent of transgender respondents received substandard medical care or were refused medical treatment outright simply because of sexual orientation.
The most egregious example of this was outlined in three Washington Post stories relating the death of 24-year-old Tyra Hunter, a transgender woman who suffered a car accident in 1995.
While Tyra was bleeding on the ground, a paramedic started treatment on her and was shocked to find she had a penis.
He got up and walked away.
While Tyra gasped for breath, he mocked her.
While Tyra lay choking on her broken teeth, he joked about her.
When bystanders begged him to help, he refused.
And so did the other paramedics on the scene.
When Tyra finally got to the hospital, the doctors ordered blood but never gave it to her.
They took tests, then lost the results.
Tyra was largely ignored by a room full of doctors and died an hour later.
When Tyra’s mother brought the case to trial, medical experts said Tyra had an 86 percent chance of surviving the accident if she had received proper care.
But she didn’t, simply because she was transgender.
Even setting aside the staggering lack of empathy that was demonstrated here, we don’t know if all these people refused to treat Tyra because of their religious objections, or just because Tyra didn’t conform to their version of normal and was therefore disposable.
We do know that this administration is actively working to make this kind of barbarity legal.
For this administration, the cruelty is the point.