The Trump Administration has declared war on transgender people. This isn’t a new revelation, but they have succeeded in dismantling every protection the Obama Administration had put in place for transgender people.
You might not have even noticed the most recent rollback unless you follow this subject closely. After all, these past two years it has been all anti-trans all the time. Not to mention the daily barrage of news about Trump and the no good, horrible, very bad people he has working for him throwing norms in the trash and pissing on the rule of law. It’s dizzying.
But it’s important that we all, trans or not, pay attention to the systematic dehumanization of transgender people under Trump. Because it’s truly horrifying.
Transgender people are one of the most vulnerable populations in the U.S., so the relentlessness focus of this administration on harming them says a lot about what kind of people we currently have running this country. The protections afforded to transpeople by the Obama Administration sought to address remedy or at least address the glaring inequities in how trans folks are treated, but a few rule changes were never going to be enough to change societal attitudes about gender identity. The changes simply weren’t in place long enough to create a lasting shift, which is why the protections were so easy for Trump and his ilk to undo.
In addition to banning transgender troops, banning anyone at the Center for Disease Control from using the word “transgender,” scraping civil rights protections for transgender students, turning transgender people away from homeless shelters, now the Health and Human Services Department is seeking to declare that “gender identity” is not protected under federal laws regarding discrimination in health care.
This is another big step toward dehumanizing transgender people. Republicans already think that health care is a privilege, not a right. So, you can imagine how they feel about health care for a group of people they don’t even see as fully human. Actually, you don’t have to imagine. They’re telling you very openly how they feel.
Charlotte Clymer, an Army veteran and transgender woman, doesn’t mince words on Twitter: “Trump and Pence don’t just want to erase us. They want to see us die. That is not hyperbole. They are trying to dehumanize us and normalize our deaths.”
And what better way to do that than to slice away at the health care safety net so that transgender folks can just slip right through?
It’s important to point out there is no good reason for making it harder for trans folks to get care. The basis for this proposal is “little more than prejudice” according to Mara Keisling, Executive Director for the National Center for Transgender Equality.
“This proposal will abandon 2 million Americans who already face significant barriers to accessing adequate and life-saving health care,” Keisling said in a statement. “This is not about free health care or special treatment. It’s about the right of every American to be treated with dignity when they walk into an emergency room, meet a new doctor or find the right insurance plan.”
Of course, under Trump, Republicans have shown that they are all too willing to strip health care from Americans regardless of their gender identity. As a two-time cancer survivor myself, these past two years have felt like relentless psychological abuse, and I’m a cisgender woman. The strain on transgender people is much greater than what I have faced. We must fight back.
What can you do? Well, for starters, you can vote for Democrats in every election, local state and federal. It really does matter whether or not the people in power see transgender people are human. Republicans do not deserve your vote. Not only are Democrats the only people who support transgender civil rights, but I also noticed today that Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Kirsten Gillibrand and Joe Biden all have transgender pride merch for sale on their campaign sites. We have a lot of great choices for 2020. Full disclosure: I’m with Warren all the way, but no matter who gets the presidential nomination, we must come together and vote blue. America might not survive four more years under Trump. And many transgender people definitely won’t.
Also, the rule change is in the public comment period, so visit protecttranshealth.org and submit a comment to the Department of Health and Human Services expressing your opposition to scrapping protections for transgender Americans. Will your comment change their minds? No, probably not. But each comment in support of transgender people weakens the Trump Administration’s attempt to erase them. n
D’Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer and comedian living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.