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High School | Home of the Spartans

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Posted 03/08/2021 by Eleanor Benson

Gay and transgender pride flags flown. photo courtesy of Kaiser Health News.

An in-depth analysis of the Trump Administration’s effect on LGBTQ+ protections and rights vs. the new Biden Administration’s promises to the community. 

Throughout the past four years, the Trump administration has made severe cutbacks on LGBTQ+ rights. The Administration continued to ignore the community and its advocates as it stripped them of their rights. Luckily, with the incoming Biden administration, the future seems brighter for the LGBTQ+ community. Biden’s LGBTQ+ plan is looking to be the most ambitious one of any president. While this is leaving the community hopeful, the fight is not over. 

The Trump administration had approximately 180 anti-LGBTQ+ policies and actions, according to GLAAD’s Trump Accountability Project (TAP). Not only did the country see a near-total ban on transgender individuals serving in the military, but with only two weeks left in office, Trump rolled back nondiscrimination protection for those inside the community seeking healthcare services, birth control, and adoption. Based upon their religious beliefs, those with government grants and federal contractors can refuse to provide health coverage for birth control and adoption services for LGBTQ+ couples or singles. The concept of the freedom of religion being violated by the community gaining civil rights is not a new one. Since the beginning of the movement, this has been the main reason for the community’s constant setbacks. Anti-LGBTQ+ policies are not the only thing the Trump administration has done to harm the community. With the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, the chance of a rollback on marriage equality looms as well.

Though the country has a new administration, Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett is a worrying topic for those inside the community. With the breaking news in October 2020 of two Supreme Court Justices looking to revoke the decision of the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges case, Justice Barrett’s confirmation caused even more concern. Obergefell v. Hodges is the equal marriage case; the decision led to the federal government making gay marriage legal in all 50 states. During her confirmation, Justice Barrett related her judicial philosophy to Antonin Scalia, a former Justice who dissented in the equal marriage case, stating that equal marriage was “a threat to American democracy.” She has expressed views against marriage equality and continues to defend dissenters of Obergefell v. Hodges. Though this does not mean that when marriage equality is once again brought in front of the Supreme Court, she will go against it, the odds do not seem to be in the LGBTQ+ community’s favor.

The leading group within the community that the Trump administration policies have harmed are transgender people. In his first 100 days in office, Trump rescinded Title IX protections for transgender students. The Department of Education Office of Civil Rights disregarded complaints from transgender students about bathroom access. As mentioned before, the Trump administration put an almost complete ban on transgender people entering the military. In October of 2017, the Trump administration reversed a policy that protected transgender employees from workforce discrimination. In March of 2018, the Department of Housing and Urban Development defended the decision made by the Trump Administration to remove guidelines that were placed to prevent LGBTQ+ discrimination within homeless shelters because the presence of transgender women made others “not comfortable.” The list continues with policies and actions that dehumanize transgender and other LGBTQ+ members in the eyes of the US government. While Trump was in power, the community saw almost constant drawbacks in protection against discrimination. 

How can the Biden administration work to fix these 180 actions? The country can already see Biden keeping up with his promises to the community. On Biden’s first day in office, he signed an Executive Order that built off of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County (2020) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit workplace discrimination against LGBTQ+ workers. He promised that on his first day in office he was going to withdraw the almost total ban on transgender individuals entering the military; which he followed through with and he reinstated protections of transgender students that the Trump administration withdrew. And finally, the Equality Act, which the Biden administration has said to prioritize within the first 100 days in office, is a monumental step towards equality in the workforce and housing for the community. Whether or not the administration will keep up with these promises is up in the air, but Biden’s continued support for the community is a good sign.

Approximately nine million American citizens are part of the LGBTQ+ community. Nine million citizens should not be allowed to be discriminated against at their jobs, in receiving healthcare, participating in the military, or in any way. The allowance of these types of policies over the past four years sends a message to not only the community but the American citizens; our government stands by and supports homophobia, transphobia, and bigotry.