As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump repeatedly stated that he would work to protect the rights of LGBTQ Americans, but his actions since taking office seem to tell a different story, Time reports.
When the country was engaged in a collective debate about which public restrooms transgender people should use, candidate Trump told Today that high-profile transgender celebrity Caitlyn Jenner would use whatever bathroom she wanted to at Trump Tower. Later he would tweet that as president he would be better for LGBT Americans than his opponent Hillary Clinton. Even during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, Trump decried the then-recent shootings at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
"As your President, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology," he said at the time.
Since becoming president, however, Trump and his administration have actively rolled back a number of existing protections for such Americans, especially in the case of transgender individuals.
"This is an all-out attack on not only the rights of trans people but our very existence in the public square," said Charlotte Clymer, press secretary at the Human Rights Campaign and an LGBTQ activist. "Never have transgender people been under greater threat than under Donald Trump and Mike Pence."In February of 2017, both the Justice and Education departments rejected the Obama-era guidance that ensured nondiscrimination laws required schools to let transgender students use the bathroom for their identifying gender.
In April of 2019, the Department of Defense codified Trump's guidance which effectively bars transgender people who have transitioned from enlisting in the military. The guidance also prohibits already-enlisted troops from using hormone therapy or having gender transition surgeries.
As recently as Wednesday, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that it will reverse requirements that homeless shelters receiving Housing Department funding provide equal access to services in line with an individual's gender identity. The policy change will allow men's and women's shelters to segregate transgender people as permitted by state and local laws. It would also let shelters consider a person's sex when deciding whether he or she will be admitted to a shelter.
In an even more sweeping potential change, on Friday the Department of Health and Human Services published a proposal that would eliminate an Obama-era rule defining discrimination "on the basis of sex" to include gender identity.
LGBTQ allies and activists continue to fight these changes and to raise awareness for such issues.