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5 Ways the Trump Presidency Has Affected LGBTQ Rights

Illustration: Hilton Dresden

The damage is already being done.

Despite saying he supported LGBTQ rights on the campaign trail, Donald Trump and his administration have already proven to be among the most overtly harmful toward our community in American history. (Of course, we all saw this coming).

"One hundred days of Trump translates into 100 days of erasure for the LGBTQ community," GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis told NBC News, following his first 100 days in office. "From the Census exclusion, to rescinding Obama's guidance for trans youth in schools, and lack of any LGBTQ mentions on the White House website, he has spent the early days of his administration trying to remove us from the very fabric of this country. We must resist."

Underlining Ellis' concern, here are five ways Trump's administration has already threatened LGBTQ rights:

1. The Travel Ban

On January 25, Trump signed into order the now infamous travel ban halting entry of refugees into the country, as well as visits from seven major Muslim-majority countries. For LGBTQ refugees seeking safety from their home countries, Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International, told NBC the ban "could amount to a death sentence to LGBTQ people who have few means of escape."

Related | New Yorkers Marched to Demand Humanitarian Visas For Queer Chechens

In Chechnya, gay men are still being hunted down, tortured, and killed in droves. "Every day queer Chechens are rounded up, abducted, tortured, and killed," said New York-based activist group Voices 4 Chechnya, which is demanding Trump grant humanitarian visas for at-risk gay Chechens. "Over 20 Chechens have escaped and are living in safe houses in mainland Russia, with no way out."

2. Revoking Trans Students' Access To Proper Bathrooms

In February, Trump's andministration announced they'd reverse protections for trans students in public schools put in place under Obama. This decision returns power to the states to decide how they'd address the issue. The Supreme Court later dismissed the case of trans teen Gavin Grimm, who'd been fighting for equal access to bathrooms for all students.

Related | SCOTUS Sends Gavin Grimm's Case Back to Lower Court

In April, the Justice Department also withdrew their lawsuit against North Carolina over the transphobic HB2 bill, since it was replaced by another unjust bill, HB142. As Slateexplains, the 142 bill "forbids 'state agencies, boards, offices, departments, institutions,' and 'branches of government,' including public universities, from regulating 'access to multiple occupancy restrooms, showers, or changing facilities.' It applies this same rule to 'local boards of education,' meaning these boards cannot pass trans-inclusive policies. Instead, local governments, public universities, and school boards would have to wait for permission from the General Assembly to protect trans people. Of course, the heavily gerrymandered, vehemently anti-trans, Republican-dominated legislature will almost certainly never grant this permission."

3. Workplace Discrimination

On July 27, the Justice Department, led by anti-LGBTQ Attorney General Jeff Sessions, inserted itself into a New York federal case to overturn an important decades-old civil rights law. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects people in the workplace from discrimination on the basis of "race, color, religion, sex or national origin." In 2015, Obama's administration determined that the term "sex" included protection on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Sessions reversed that Obama directive in a briefing which reads: "The sole question here is whether, as a matter of law, Title VII reaches sexual orientation discrimination. It does not, as has been settled for decades. Any efforts to amend Title VII's scope should be directed to Congress rather than the courts."

The ACLU called the Justice Department's decision a "gratuitous and extraordinary attack on LGBT people's civil rights," and that "The Sessions-led Justice Department and the Trump administration are actively working to expose people to discrimination," according to The New York Times.

4. The Trans Military Ban

In August, Trump infamously tweeted: "After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military."

Related | Trans in the Military: How the Face of Service is Changing

While the ban is being reviewed by Defense Secretary James Mattis, it still show no real signs of being stopped, and goes into effect March 23, 2018.

5. Appointing An Office That Supports Discrimination

First there's Betsy Devos, whose family has donated to anti-LGBT groups like Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council and the National Organization for Marriage. She also said in a Senate hearing that as Secretary of Education, she would not take a stance against LGBTQ discrimination in schools: "On areas where the law is unsettled, this department is not going to be issuing decrees," DeVos said. "That is a matter for Congress and the courts to settle."

Then we have Stephen Bannon, who, although since fired as White House Chief Strategist, was an alarming person to have in such a powerful position, particularly since he served as head of Breitbart News, an alt-right news organization that publishes headlines like: "Does Feminism Make Women Ugly?" and "Would You Rather Your Children Have Feminism or Cancer?"

Related | Donald Trump Joked That Mike Pence Wants to 'Hang All Gay People'

And, of course, Mike Pence, who, according to the New Yorker recently said he wants to hang all gay people. While Pence, who has openly supported gay conversion therapy, denied the claim, the New Yorker stands by their report. "The Vice-President's press office declined to participate in this story for months, after multiple requests for interviews, comment, and fact-checking," they said in a statement. "We heard from the press office only after the piece had closed, late Thursday. In the course of fact-checking this piece, we talked to more than 60 people to confirm the reporting contained therein, including senior White House officials, a senior member of the Vice-President's office, the RGA, Rep. Elijah Cummings, and multiple people who were in the room when President Trump joked that Vice-President Pence 'wants to hang' gay people."

Finally, let us never forget that Trump himself just spoke at a convention for an anti-LGBT hate group--telling, really.

Advocate Channel - HuluOut / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

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