The Trump administration has rolled back several rights and measures against discrimination that protected the transgender community.
During the ABC town hall of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, Mieke Haeck, a mother whose daughter is transgender, claimed “The Trump administration has attacked the rights of transgender people, banning them from military service, weakening nondiscriminatory protection and even removing the word 'transgender' from some government websites.”
Haeck’s assertions are true. In Jan 2017, shortly after Donald Trump was sworn in as President, news broke that LGBTQ content had been removed from the US Department of State website. The Washington Post reported that several social issues had disappeared from the WhiteHouse.gov site, including a page dedicated to LGBT rights and a report on the Labor Department’s website on LGBT workers' rights.
In Jan. 2019, the Supreme Court approved Trump's ban on transgender people in the United States army. The move reversed the Obama administration's attempts that allowed transgender people to serve openly and have access to gender-affirming medical and psychological care. A New York Times report explained that under the new rules, troops and recruits could identify as transgender, but it was a must to use the uniforms, pronouns, and sleeping and bathroom facilities for their biological sex. Transgender people will not be allowed to serve if they have a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, a disorder in which a person’s gender identity does not match their physical gender at birth. The policy exempts transgender troops who have already transitioned or have begun the medical process. Anyone who defies the regulations in the future would be forced out of uniform.
Another New York Times reportage that chronicled the experiences of people from the transgender community under the current government stated “The Trump administration has rolled back a wide array of protections for transgender people, many of them put in place during the Obama administration. The Obama White House used its powers to declare that legal and legislative efforts to defend against sex discrimination should apply to gender identity. The Trump White House called that executive overreach — and reversed course wherever it could.”
A slew of policy changes and regulations spanning various government departments have been introduced since Trump assumed office in Jan. 2017. The shifts align with the President’s religious and socially conservative outlook and have left transgenders more vulnerable to discrimination.
On Jul. 23, 2020, the Department of Housing and Urban Development formally announced the rollback of a previous rule that protected transgender people from discrimination by homeless shelters and other housing services receiving federal funds. The New York Times reported that the rule would allow single-sex homeless shelters to exclude transgender people from facilities that correspond with their gender identity, pressing forward with limits on transgender rights despite a Supreme Court ruling that extended civil rights protections to transgender people.
The Department of Health and Human Services announced in June that it had finalized the extensive rollback of health care discrimination rules, to eliminate the protections for transgender people experiencing discrimination in health care settings and/or by insurance companies denying transition-related care, as well as to weaken nondiscriminatory access to health care for those with Limited English Proficiency.
Another rule proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services, which suggested among other changes, expanding the protection of health care workers who refused to treat transgender patients if it contradicted their beliefs was struck down by a United States district judge. In line with the administration’s antagonistic stance towards the transgender community, the HHS department announced it would not enforce, and planned to repeal, regulations prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity, sexual orientation, and religion in all HHS grant programs. The National Center for Transgender Equality states, “These include programs to address the HIV, opioid, and youth homelessness epidemics, as well as hundreds of billions of dollars in other health and human service programs.”
In November 2019, the Department of Education published final regulations permitting religious schools to ignore nondiscrimination standards set by accrediting agencies. The Department also backtracked on Obama-era rules that allowed transgender students to use bathrooms of their choice or participate in sports corresponding with their gender identity, thus countering multiple court rulings reaffirming that transgender students are protected under Title IX, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.
As per records of the National Center for Transgender Equality “ in November 2017, the Justice Department released a sweeping "license to discriminate" allowing federal agencies, government contractors, government grantees, and even private businesses to engage in illegal discrimination, as long as they can cite religious reasons for doing so.” The Department also sought a rollback on policies that offered protection to transgender people. The new policy proposed housing transgender people in federal prison facilities that match their sex assigned at birth.
The NYT report stated that White House officials reject any implication that the policies are motivated by intolerance. It said, “Administration officials and their allies say they are protecting the rights of people who do not want to share bathrooms or sleeping accommodations with transgender people while safeguarding the religious and moral freedoms of medical professionals and others. Civil rights cut two ways, and the administration is merely shifting the emphasis, supporters say.”