Houston, we have a problem.
In the first two weeks of President Trump’s first (and hopefully only) term, he has wreaked havoc on the White House, democracy, global relations and immigration. It seems nothing is off limits. He’s like a two-year-old destroying everything in his path just because he can.
With a seeming army of anti-LGBTQ lawmakers behind him, LGBTQ rights could be on the chopping block. After 8 years of incredible progress under Barack Obama-the most pro-LGBTQ president ever-it seems we need to pull on our knee pads and helmets. The next 4 years are going to be rough.
There was a glimmer of hope when Trump announced he was leaving a pro-LGBTQ executive order in place. Back in 2014, Obama signed that order, making it illegal to discriminate against federal employees based on sexual or gender identity. The biggest question for the trans community about Trump was ‘what rights would he take away?’ By leaving that 2014 order untouched, he reaffirmed that he was a “president for everyone”.
But the euphoria from that decision didn’t last long. On February 1, an executive order draft leaked that seemed like a supersized version of Vice President Mike Pence’s Indiana religious freedom bill.
The order has one hell of a title: “Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom”. “Religious freedom” is just a euphemism for discrimination. That executive order, if signed by Trump, would make it legal to discriminate against all LGBTQ people for education, healthcare, employment opportunities, government grants or even running our own businesses. This order would effectively legalize discrimination. That’s bone-chilling.
After public outcry reached a fever pitch, Press Secretary Sean Spicer assured reporters that the administration had no immediate plans to roll out such an order. However, he hinted that it was possible.
So, we’ve dodged the bullet for now. But it’s possible our rights could still be disposable as time goes on.
It’s scary to think about, but if the controversy over the immigration ban is any indication, an anti-LGBTQ executive order wouldn’t be an easy pill to swallow. Almost immediately after Trump’s immigration ban went into effect, multiple lawyers came to the defense of stranded immigrants. Currently, the ban has been lifted and is at the center of an intense legal battle. This is over 7 countries abroad. There are roughly 22 million LGBTQ people right here at home. We won’t let an inflammatory order like that stand as the law in our country.
We may still have rights at the moment. But the trans community is still fighting to receive what everyone else does. While visibility has improved, there are still plenty of injustices over everything from bathroom use to healthcare access to changing a state ID. We’re still fighting for basic rights and principles, and we’ve never been able to breathe easy. We won’t start now. But what we will do is gear up for a fight. If we want to keep moving forward, we’ll have to do so with force.