The Log Cabin Republicans, a conservative alleged LGBTQ rights organization, has recently endorsed Donald Trump for reelection in 2020. Though the group did not formally come out in favor of Trump’s candidacy in the 2016 election, Charles Moran, Log Cabin’s spokesperson and member of the Board, gave the “reasoning” behind the decision to endorse.
He stated that not only LGBT people are “better off” under Trump, but all people have faired well under this President. Moran asserted that Trump was the “first president in office to support gay marriage,” that he has “worked to end discrimination of LGBT people internationally,” and he has vowed “to cure HIV in ten years.”
While running for the U.S. presidency, Donald Trump said at campaign rallies that he would be a different kind of Republican because he would defend and strengthen LGBT protections. At the 2016 Republican convention, he posed with a rainbow flag with the words “LGBTs for Trump” scrawled across the yellow stripe.
This should have given us all a clue in foretelling his cowardice and deception once he took over the reins of power because since moving into the White House, the Trump administration has declared total nuclear war on the transgender community.
When the Trump administration promoted its 2017 “American Heroes Week,” the alleged Commander-in-Chief let it be known in a torrential three-tweet series that he does not include trans people in the category of “American Heroes,” especially those currently and previously serving in the U.S. military.
After consideration 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. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming….. ….victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.
On Friday, April 12, 2019, this clearly discriminatory and unnecessary policy took effect.
Trump’s official policy-by-tweet contradicts Department of Defense regulations released June 30, 2016, under Defense Secretary Ash Carter permitting trans people to join and openly serve their country. At that time, the United States added its name to an ever-increasing list of 22 other nations welcoming trans people into their military ranks, with the Netherlands as the first as far back as 1973. A sampling of others includes Australia, Bolivia, Canada, Germany, Israel, New Zealand, and Spain.
A Rand Study fully debunks the Lier-in-Chief’s assertion of some sort of burdensome “tremendous medical costs” expended on trans service members. Of the Pentagon’s annual military health care budget of $6.28 billion, an estimated relatively minuscule $2.4 – 8.4 million accounts for transition-related health care costs.
In addition, Rand found that merely 25 – 130 active-component trans military personnel have deployment restrictions due to transition-related medical treatments. In comparison, 50,000 active-duty soldiers in one single branch, the Army, cannot deploy for medical and other reasons.
Trump ban of transgender military service personnel has been placed on hold since three separate federal courts of appeal found the policy unconstitutional. The Supreme Court, however, on January 22, 2019, in a 5 to 4 vote, lifted the injunction, which allows the administration’s policy to take effect.
In another salvo attempting to render trans people illegitimate, invisible, and silent under the law, the Trump administration, in a memo sent to major government agencies, ordered that the definition of “gender” must be based “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.”
This means that the sex of everyone must accord with the binary of “male” or “female” determined by the genitals a person a born with, unless genetic tests determine otherwise.
Though federal civil rights laws currently protect transgender people through such statutes as Title VII, Title IX, and the Affordable Care Act, the Trump administration’s obvious intent is to nullify and further excite its base by going after trans people in advance of the last mid-term elections.
This latest action follows a long and cynical string of destructive battles this administration has waged against U.S. trans citizens.
In an earlier memo sent from his Department of “Justice” to U.S. attorneys, department heads, and federal agencies, Trump’s former Attorney General, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, reversed an Obama-era policy that protected trans employees from discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Session made clear that his department would no longer interpret gender protections in Title VII to include gender identity and expression.
Since Trump’s inauguration, he abolished an Obama-era executive order permitting transgender students to use school facilities most closely aligning with their gender identities, and the White House website has removed reference to LGBT issues and policies from the previous administration.
Another of Trump’s assaults on the trans community came in the form of a yet another rollback of protections initiated by his immediate predecessor.
The Obama administration issued a policy directive manual enumerating the rights and responsibilities of transgender people in prison related to several areas including housing, strip searches, and medical care. The directive advised respect and protection of transgender inmates and, on a case-by-case basis, the possibility of residence in prisons matching their gender identities.
Trump’s expected dismantling of protections will have wide-ranging negative effects.
The National Center for Transgender Equality found that 16% of transgender adults (including 21% of transwomen) have been incarcerated in prison or jail at some point in their lives. Nearly half (47%) of black transgender women have been incarcerated.
These high rates are associated with disproportionate poverty, homelessness, societal and workplace discrimination, involvement in street economies, and sometimes, bias from law enforcement. They are also at higher risk for harassment, abuse, and violence in juvenile detention facilities, jails, and prisons.
“Corrections” officials routinely deny transgender people transition-related medical care, and they often suffer prolonged sentences of isolation.
It should be crystal clear to everyone that Trump’s motive in declaring war on an entire category of people has nothing to do with concerns over improving military readiness, or ending discrimination in schools and in the workplace, or improving prison conditions.
It has nothing to do with health care costs. It has nothing to do with some alleged and unspecific “disruption,” and it certainly has nothing to do with “religious freedom.”
Trump’s actions are intended to harden his appeal of the base feelings with his base of support by targeting scapegoats for his failed policies and increasingly failed presidency. It seems that the Log Cabin Republicans care little about members of the transgender community.
Donald Trump has provided us with strong clues on his regard for issues of health policy, and on HIV/AIDS specifically. He campaigned and continues to demand the death of the Affordable Care Act, while he and Republican members of Congress offer no viable alternatives. He supported a so-called “tax reform” bill, which he signed into law, that will reportedly cut 13 million people from quality affordable health care insurance.
And we don’t have to look very deeply to understand why his administration banned these seven words from use in Centers for Disease Control documents: entitlement, diversity, vulnerable, transgender, science-based, evidence-based, and fetus.
As someone who lived through the terrible initial years of the HIV/AIDS crisis, I often think about all my wonderful friends, and the tens and hundreds of thousands leading to millions of people in the U.S. and throughout the world community who did not survive, who lost their lives through the intransigence and cruel societal and governmental (in)actions that killed so many.
Well, how else are we to interpret Trump’s behavior (“Make”) other than to understand that he sees those as “Great” times to which he wants to take us, “America” “Again”?
Trump fired all remaining members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA), a group created under Bill Clinton’s administration in 1995 to recommend strategic policy responses to the pandemic. President George W. Bush continued the group’s charter, and the Obama administration expanded its mandate to monitor National HIV/AIDS strategy.
In June 2017, however, experiencing a lack of commitment by Trump and members of his leadership team to tackle the pandemic, six members of PACHA resigned in protest. They cited Trump’s apathy in a letter stating their inability to work with “a president who simply does not care.”
A former member and a signatory of the letter wrote that Trump: “has no strategy to address the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic, seeking zero input from experts to formulate HIV policy, and — most concerning — pushes legislation that will harm people living with HIV and halt or reverse important gains made in the fight against this disease.”
So, on the issue of HIV/AIDS, Trump works to “Make American Great Again” by taking the country back to the “policies” and times of Ronald Reagan’s presidency.
Ronald Reagan is not the model politician and leader that most Republicans worship today. Among other things, Ronald Reagan functioned as the Co-conspirator-In-Chief in the deaths of people infected with HIV during the early years of the eventual pandemic under his so-called “watch.” Ronald Reagan should have been charged with and convicted of genocidal murder, rather than seen as the much-venerated pseudo-saint who he has been anointed by the conservative Republican Party.
Whenever I hear tributes of praise to this mythological figure coming from Republican stalwarts, what comes to my mind instead is a stunningly poignant quote from Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart, his stage play covering the early years of AIDS in the United States:
We’re living through war, but where they’re living it’s peacetime, and we’re all in the same country.
As I hear these words reverberating in my mind, images escape from my stored memory into consciousness of the excruciatingly long years of Ronald Reagan, under whose presidency the AIDS pandemic first came to light, when he finally and officially acknowledged the existence of the crisis. The one and only time he publicly spoke of AIDS before 1985, except to address a few reporters’ questions, was in his first year in office when he inferred that “maybe the Lord brought down the plague because illicit sex is against the Ten Commandments.”
With 80,000 dead of AIDS, our promiscuous homosexuals appear literally hell-bent on Satanism and suicide.
Uninformed and prejudicial statements coming from the White House and the halls of Congress, from the State Houses, and yes, from some houses of worship during those trying times only encouraged the ceaseless bigotry and discriminatory actions against people with HIV, while the AIDS Project patchwork quilt expanded exponentially day-by-day.
In those early years, HIV/AIDS affected most visibly what some called the “4H Club” – Homosexuals, Haitians, Intravenous Heroin Drug Users, and People with Hemophilia – all but the latter considered as “disposables.” Governmental and many societal institutions refused to take wide-scale action.
One can reasonably argue that if most people with HIV/AIDS initially had been middle-class, white, suburban, heterosexual, Christian, males, rather than gay and bisexual males, trans people, people of color, working-class people, sex workers, and drug users, we would have immediately seen massive mobilizations to defeat the virus.
Some people refer to our current era as one in which HIV/AIDS and the discrimination surrounding it no longer pose major physical and social barriers. Unfortunately, nothing can be further from the truth even though much has improved since those horrendous early years.
Infection rates throughout the world continue to rise, millions still can’t afford the constellation of drug therapies needed to keep them alive, and ignorance and prejudice remain as major impediments.
Though he could have been a major force in leading the efforts to contain a crisis, Ronald Reagan failed miserably by commission and omission and for that, he must be held accountable for the deaths of thousands of people during his years as Derelict-and-Criminal Commander-In-Chief on the war against HIV.
So, on a number of issues, to “Make America Great Again,” Trump imagines a time when draconian measures (“Make”) were used by men who were “real men” (“Great”), when women and people of color “knew their place” (“Great”), when Christian Evangelicalism ruled (“America”), when leaders functioned by divine right as totalitarian dictators as the landed gentry exploited and robbed the “peasantry” (“Great Again”).
Trump’s not-so-surprising assaults on LGBTQ people have the heavy thump print of Vice President Pence who, in his first congressional campaign in 2000, argued for public funding of so-called “conversion therapy” for LGBTQ people. On his website at the time, his disdain for same-sex attractions and sexuality stands out:
Congress should support the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus. Resources should be directed toward those institutions, which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.
Pence opposes marriage equality and LGBTQ non-discrimination protections, and as Indiana Governor, helped to pass the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration law allowing businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ people. The state was forced to amend the law after experiencing serious political and financial push back.
Donald Trump, by choosing Mike Pence, has added LGBTQ people to his already extensive list of scapegoated “Others,” which include Mexicans and all Central and South American-heritage people, First Nations peoples, Muslims, people with disabilities, all women, and NFL players and coaches taking a knee in solidarity with groups like Black Lives Matter protesting police attacks on black and brown people.
By choosing Mike Pence, Trump has double-downed in his attempts to divide and conquer the electorate by instilling fear in promising the bigoted the “freedom” to discriminate to the fullest extent of the law without the threat of prosecution.
Members of the trans community often suffer the consequences of other truth-tellers of the past. Nearly every two – three days, a person, like those highlighted throughout this commentary, is killed somewhere in the world for expressing gender diversity. The overwhelming majority of murders are of trans women of color.
We must all stand up and be counted against the scurrilous attacks perpetrated by the Trump administration.
We must not permit the policymakers, the majority presumably heterosexual and largely cisgender male, to dictate policy over whether transgender employees and students are protected against discrimination, and whether trans service members are granted permission openly to serve their country.
And we must not allow anyone, policymaker or otherwise, to demean, intimidate, harass, violate, or murder anyone, including our dear transgender worriers.
Looking back over the years, as our LGBTQ visibility has increased, as our place within the culture has become somewhat more assured, much certainly has been gained. But, also, I can’t help but feel that something very precious has been lost.
Our early excitement, our desire— though by no means our ability—to fully restructure the culture, as distinguished from mere reform, seems now to lay dormant in many of our political organizations and communities, and especially with the Log Cabin Republicans.
Maybe one of the logs in their cabin has fallen on their heads knocking out any lingering sense of reason.
If LGBTQ people are to achieve a truly equitable society, we must reach higher, wider, and broader.
We need to work to “transform” or “revolutionize” completely the society and its institutions by challenging overall power inequities in terms of traditional gender and racial constructions, the economic basis on which this country rests and the massive inequities between socioeconomic groups.
We need to make links in the various forms of identity and forms of oppression, and form coalitions between various marginalized groups, as well as look at other means of activism, which can result in true and lasting systemic change.
We must not, however, limit our efforts to these forms of oppression. For oppression operates like a wheel with many spokes. If we work to dismantle only one or a few specific spokes, the wheel will continue spinning and trampling over people. We must work toward dismantling all its many hideous spokes if we hope to ever truly dismantle oppression.
Sexual and relational attractions and gender expressions alone are not sufficient to connect a community, and by extension, to fuel a movement for progressive social change.
We must, therefore, look beyond ourselves and base our communities and movements not simply on our identities, but also on shared ideas and ideals that cut across individuals from disparate social identities. We must come together with like minds, political philosophies, and strategies for achieving their objectives.
As we all know only too well the answer to the question Trump asked of black people during his campaign, “What the hell do you have to lose?” we also see the yellow stripe Trump ripped off the rainbow flag, which he attached it to his spine.
What’s your take? Comment below or write a response and submit to us your own point of view or reaction here at the red box, below, which links to our submissions portal.
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