Candidate Donald Trump campaigned on being an ally to the LGBTQ community. After the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, in 2016, Trump claimed he was a “real friend” to the gay community. During a campaign rally in Colorado, he held up a rainbow flag, and on several occasions, he tweeted support for LGBTQ people. Since his very first day in office, however, the Trump Administration has demonstrably failed LGBTQ people, and specifically LGBTQ workers, time and time again.
Only two hours after being sworn into office in January 2017, the Trump Administration removed all mentions of LGBTQ issues from the official White House website. Since then, the Administration has unleashed a hate-filled campaign against gay and transgender individuals and rolled back numerous rights gained by the LGBTQ community in the last decade.
This assault has been particularly striking in the workplace. The Trump Administration has opposed the Equality Act, which passed the House in May and would protect LGBTQ individuals from discrimination across key areas, including employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces, federally funded programs, and jury service. In the recent landmark Supreme Court case Bostock v. Clayton County, the Trump Administration argued that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect gay and transgender workers. Remarkably, the Administration’s argument put it at odds with its own Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency charged with enforcing employment anti-discrimination laws. Despite Trump’s attempt to protect intolerance in the workplace, the Court ultimately sided with workers and finally extended these protections to LGBTQ employees. Trump’s Department of Labor also issued regulations allowing federal contractors to claim a religious exemption to fire workers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
This Administration has and continues to systematically target transgender individuals. Against the advice of military experts, Trump implemented a comprehensive ban to transgender people serving the military (which was first announced in a tweet and surprised even military leaders). This patently bigoted policy is quickly losing support even with Republicans. It is notable that the Administration also instituted a policy that would remove military personnel living with HIV from service solely because of their status. In June, the Administration finalized a rule that would remove Obama-era nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ individuals in healthcare and health insurance.
Moreover, Trump’s Departments of Education and Justice reversed Obama-era guidance clarifying that schools must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity. This reversal gives license to harass transgender students, deny access to facilities consistent with gender identity, and refuse to use correct names and pronouns. The emotional and mental health toll on young people has proven to be devastating as the country continues to grapple with increased LGBTQ teen suicide rates. Trump has also targeted homeless transgender people. Last year, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced its plan to allow federally funded shelters to deny people access based on “privacy, safety, practical concerns, religious beliefs.”
Trump’s record on LGBTQ rights is nothing short of devastating and lays bare his empty promises of being an ally to the gay community. It is up voters to reverse this tide of hate in the upcoming election. Lives and livelihoods are at stake.