Trump, Sessions, and DeVos Roll Back Transgender Protections

Against the Meek

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Trump, Sessions, and DeVos Roll Back Transgender Protections

The Trump Administration just decided to roll back federal protections for transgender students. The White House announced they would no longer abide by legal guidelines established by the Obama Presidency, which allowed persons to follow their gender identity and use the restroom which best suited them.

The Washington Post reported that

Officials with the federal Education and Justice departments notified the U.S. Supreme Court late Wednesday that the administration is ordering the nation’s schools to disregard memos the Obama administration issued during the past two years regarding transgender student rights. Those memos said that prohibiting transgender students from using facilities that align with their gender identity violates federal anti-discrimination laws.

What a thread of cruelty to weave into the American fabric. This is not an academic exercise. Condemnation has huge ramifications. You are talking about the lives of an estimated 1.4 million people. A Tuesday report suggested teen suicide went down in states where same-sex marriage was legalized:

The data was collected in the years leading up to the legalisation of same-sex marriage in 2015. In the states where same-sex marriage was made legal, suicide attempts dropped by 7% among the general population surveyed, and by 14% among kids who were gay, lesbian, and bisexual. In states where same-sex marriage remained illegal, there was no change.

Could it be possible that ostracism in our society has something to do with teen suicide? Of course it does. Is it probable that the official law-giving authority in our society, the organization which literally exists to establish binding norms, has some effect on whether teenagers feel they are being accepted or not? Of course it does.

What did the Secretary of Education say, the official charged with protecting the rights of students across America?

DeVos also gave assurances that the department’s Office for Civil Rights “remains committed to investigating all claims of discrimination, bullying and harassment against those who are most vulnerable in our schools,” and she noted that she considers “protecting all students, including LGBTQ students, not only a key priority for the Department, but for every school in America.”

“Bullying and harassment against those who are most vulnerable.” But this Administration is the one who is the harasser. They are the bully. And you went along with this, Madam Secretary.

When Al Franken asked her if she supported conversion therapy, DeVos said:

“Sen. Franken, I’ve never believed in that. First of all, let me say I fully embrace equality and I believe in the innate value of every single human being and that all students, no matter their age, should be able to attend a school and feel safe and be free of discrimination. So let’s start there and let me just say that your characterization of our contributions I don’t think accurately reflects those of my family. I would hope you wouldn’t include other family members beyond my core family.”

Those days are over, it seems. Although I use mockery when I write pieces on politics, I generally prefer to criticize policy, not persons, when I can. Even the most appalling position usually has a string of arguments behind it: typically bad arguments, but arguments nonetheless. Nobody who gets into politics sees themselves as the villain. Even the theoretical political payoff for Trump is slight. I am honestly straining to find any evidence which would indicate that this was a reasoned, open-minded, pragmatic change of course. None is available.

The government now wishes to inform transgender people that there is something wrong with them. Think of that! While I cannot make windows into the souls of other people, it seems to me that this White House is unable to care about the vulnerable, because if they did, they would look at the ridiculed and the mocked and see they are their brothers and sisters. But that, it seems, is beyond them.

I have transgender friends. And based on the evidence? They have more bravery in their little finger than any of these public servants have displayed in their entire life.

Trump, Devos, Sessions, and the rest of the Trump Administration: nobody has asked you to fall in love with transgender people. Being transgender is not a fad. It is not make-believe. In America, it is a grueling, exclusional existence. You are making it worse. Perhaps you imagine what they are going through is somehow not real. I cannot say what you actually think, but I know what the effect of your policies will be, even if you do not realize it yourself.

No matter what words you couch it in, the message is the same. You are telling them they are wrong. I wonder if you know what it feels like to be told you are wrong.

Not wrong about an opinion. I wonder if you know how it feels to be told that you, your existence, is wrong. That you are an unperson.

Do you know how it feels to be told that you are unworthy of the protection of the state? That you are so wrong that even the law hates you? The law protects criminals, and it still loathes you. That’s how it feels. It means being told that there is something bent in you, something broken.

It hurts people. I don’t mean the sharp pain of a pulled tooth, or even the long, throbbing ache of a broken finger. I mean the haunting, aching, lifelong feeling that everything that society whispers about you is true, and that the deepest part of you is wrong. That you will never be beautiful, or right, or accepted. To be told you deserve nothing, and are nothing. Can you fathom that?

People have no control over the kind of body they were born into, or how their family takes it. What do they have control over? How they react to trauma. And the instant when people are most vulnerable, when they are least able to handle stress, is when they are adolescents. And you are aiming directly at that moment. You are in the scar-making business now.

Shame on you. Shame on you for your casual, thoughtless, blind embrace of bigotry. Shame on you for your lazy hugging of everything that is small and petty in America life. Shame on you for turning your back on the marginalized. Shame, shame, shame.

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