Just a really long list of reasons why Donald Trump will go down as America’s most hateful president in history
There are so many reasons why LGBT+ folk will be glad to see the back of Donald Trump, and not all of them are related to the pile of flaxen tumbleweed straddling his scalp.
The homophobe-in-chief will be missed by no one so little as the American LGBT+ community, who have watched him inflict untold damage over the past four painful years.
By GLAAD‘s count Donald Trump has attacked LGBT+ people a total of 180 times, fostering a rise in homophobic rhetoric that has led to record highs in hate crimes. Tragically this has culminated with the final full year of his presidency being named the deadliest for transgender murders since records began.
Now, as his last hours in the White House slip away, Trump leaves behind one of the most hateful legacies in American history. Here are just a few reasons why.
1. Donald Trump pushed for the courts to legalise discrimination against LGBT+ people.
Less than a year after entering the White House the Trump administration was attempting to undermine federal laws protecting the rights of LGBT+ people.
In 2017 the US Justice Department, headed by anti-LGBT+ attorney general Jeff Sessions, argued in court that discriminating against gay people is legal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
When federal judges ruled that no, you can’t legally fire people for being gay, Trump took the case to the Supreme Court – and lost again. Undeterred, Trump continued his crusade against LGBT+ people right up until the final days of his presidency.
A day after he incited a deadly riot on the Capitol, his administration went public with a final rule to rescind regulations barring discrimination against LGBT+ Americans seeking to adopt or be adopted, or access health services including HIV prevention.
2. He appointed Supreme Court judges who threaten the equal marriage ruling.
Long before he was elected president, Trump was following the guidance of anti-LGBT+ lobbyists regarding his Supreme Court picks. His first shortlist featured only anti-LGBT+ conservatives, whom Trump said he would “consider” using to overturn equal marriage.
He’s lived up to this promise with his appointment of Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, who have firmly tipped the balance of America’s highest court against LGBT+ people.
Speaking at Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing, then-vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris warned that Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy of equality risks being irrevocably “undone” as the rights she fought so hard to protect are thrown into jeopardy.
3. Trump banned transgender people from serving in the military.
In 2017 Trump announced a ban on trans people serving openly in the US military, claiming it needed to focus on “decisive and overwhelming victory” without being burdened by the “tremendous medical costs” of trans personnel.
Each of the military chiefs who testified before Congress said they’d no seen reports that transgender service disrupted unit cohesion, and a Department of Defence poll found about two-thirds of active-duty personnel actually support serving alongside trans people.
And the “tremendous medical costs” Trump spoke of? The US paid almost three times more to shoulder Donald Trump’s own tax returns than it did on transgender healthcare for the US military, reports suggest.
Nevertheless, in July 2020 the White House declared that Trump was sticking by his discriminatory policy – and added a new ban, this time on military organisations flying LGBT+ flags.
4. He denied trans people equal access to emergency shelters.
Last year Trump’s Housing and Urban Development Department pushed a rule to allow federally-funded homeless shelters to reject transgender and gender non-conforming people based on “the shelter’s religious beliefs”.
The change was proposed by senior Trump official Ben Carson, who claimed that “big, hairy men” are trying to enter women’s spaces, and that the law would prevent cis men surreptitiously gaining access to women’s shelters to abuse residents or track down spouses.
He insisted it was a way to “empower” shelters, but activists said it amounted to “an act of wanton cruelty” that would put the lives and safety of trans people at risk during a global pandemic.
5. Donald Trump fought to deny US citizenship to the children of same-sex parents.
Trump’s State Department stubbornly refused to extend US citizenship to two children of same-sex couples and engaged the families in a protracted legal battle to avoid giving the infants their passports.
Although the parents were legally married US citizens, the Trump administration refused to recognise the same-sex marriages as legally valid, meaning it classified the children as “born out of wedlock”.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany falsely claimed the policy was based on surrogacy, when in fact only LGBT+ surrogacy families had been rejected.
After persistently appealing against the court’s decisions, the state department eventually conceded defeat after a federal district judge said its argument was unlawful and raised serious constitutional issues.
6. Trump gave federal adoption agencies freedom to reject LGBT+ couples.
In 2019, as more than 100,000 children awaited adoption in the US, Trump quietly moved to scrap a rule that required federal adoption and foster agencies to treat same-sex marriages as valid. Ironically, the rule change was announced on the first day of National Adoption Month.
When the move saw Trump hit with anti-discrimination lawsuits, the homophobe-in-chief continued looking for ways to attack queer couples.
In August 2020 a report from the House Ways and Means Committee revealed that the Trump administration had been systematically discriminating against LGBT+ families in federally-supported foster care programs.
The committee revealed that federally-funded agencies were granted a waiver to allow discrimination based on religion and sexual orientation, intentionally harming LGBT+ children, adults, and families.
7. He rolled out the red carpet for homophobic leaders.
Much has been made of Trump’s close relationship with Vladimir Putin, who presides over one of the fiercest anti-LGBT+ regimes in the world.
But a close runner up is president Andrzej Duda of Poland, Donald Trump’s first guest of honour at the White House after it emerged from COVID-19 lockdown.
The high-profile trip and corresponding photo op happened to fall just days before Poland’s general election, and was seen as a strong endorsement of a leader whose campaign was actively weaponising homophobic rhetoric to win votes.
Trump and Duda met a total of 11 times during his presidency, and the close ties they cultivated saw the Polish president proposing the name “Fort Trump” for a major military base.
8. Trump backed bans on trans girls in school sports.
Trump has backed legal attempts, led by anti-LGBT+ evangelical law firm Alliance Defending Freedom, to ban trans girls from playing school sports. And in March, the Trump administration officially declared that it believes trans girls should be treated as “biological males” when playing sports at school.
The US Justice Department is supporting a lawsuit that aims to block trans girls at schools in Connecticut from competing as girls in interscholastic sports competitions. And Trump himself has tweeted in support of an Idaho law that bans trans girls from playing women’s sports.
9. His administration covered up examples of homophobic torture and persecution in global human rights reports.
Last month the US State Department was caught omitting examples of anti-LGBT+ persecution, torture and abuse from its global human rights reports, in an apparent effort to undermine efforts against homophobic violence.
These reports have been compiled by the US since 1976 and had long been viewed as a “gold standard” of objective information about the state of human rights around the world.
But in the last four years, cases of LGBT+ violence in Iraq, Iran, Eritrea, Pakistan and Sudan suddenly disappeared from the reports. Overall, reporting on LGBT+ issues abroad is down by a shocking 21 per cent under Trump.
10. Trump’s campaign for the global decriminalisation of homosexuality turned out to be a ‘sham’.
Trump’s only real claim to improving LGBT+ rights has been a much-vaulted campaign to decriminalise homosexuality around the world. However, in August leading human rights activists revealed the campaign was nothing more than “smoke and mirrors” and has almost nothing to show for its efforts.
In fact, in some countries the push for decriminalisation has actually lost ground as Trump’s domestic policy agenda undercuts the push for LGBT+ rights abroad.
“The reality is that the Trump administration has consistently undermined LGBT+ rights domestically and internationally, and the campaign [for decriminalisation] is being used to distract people from that,” said Graeme Reid of Human Rights Watch.
He added: “The US opposed criminalisation long before president Trump took office – and saying people shouldn’t be imprisoned for being LGBT+ is the bare minimum of what the US should be doing, not a bold endeavour.”
11. LGBT+ resources, data and language were erased from government websites.
Last year it was discovered that under the Trump administration LGBT+ language, data, resource pages and anti-discrimination information had been disappearing from government websites.
The use of the word “transgender” had decreased by 40 per cent, and statistics and references on transgender populations, including trans suicide statistics, had all been erased.
In total 57 per cent pages had altered LGBT+ terms, while the use of the term “faith-based and community organisations” increased by 875 per cent and “religious freedom” by 667 per cent.
12. Donald Trump pledged to cut funding for colleges that block anti-LGBT+ religious groups.
In September Trump’s education department declared it would suspend or terminate grants for public universities if they are found to have “violated the First Amendment” by blocking anti-LGBT+ student groups.
The policy, which is intended to enshrine “free speech”, could lead to some colleges becoming ineligible for future grants as well.
13. He reversed trans healthcare protections on the anniversary of the Pulse shooting.
In June 2020 the Trump administration finalised a regulation rolling back Obama-era protections for transgender Americans under the Affordable Care Act.
According to the new version of the policy, the department of health and human services will be “returning to the government’s interpretation of sex discrimination according to the plain meaning of the word ‘sex’ as male or female and as determined by biology”.
The move will harm as many as 1.5 million trans Americans – and to add insult to injury, the announcement came during Pride month, at the height of a global pandemic, on the fourth anniversary of the Pulse shooting that killed 49 people at a gay nightclub.
14. His officials support torturous conversion therapy.
The Trump administration holds myriad connections to organisations that support conversion therapy, including one “ex-gay” ministry, Exodus International. In July 2020 the former leader of the now-defunct ministry, Randy Thomas, revealed the lobbying work he’d done with several Trump officials.
“Given my experience,” he said, “I believe Mike Pence is still supportive of ex-gay ministry and he supports the efforts to try to convert people from gay to straight.”
Thomas also referenced working with Kellyanne Conway and other former Republican leaders, lobbying against marriage equality and hate crime legislation.
The very same month, Trump’s senior legal advisor Jenna Ellis actually retweeted an article promoting conversion therapy. The harmful practise, which has been debunked for decades, is often compared to torture and has been linked to higher risks of depression, suicide, and drug addiction.
15. Donald Trump turned a blind eye to the epidemic of violence against trans women of colour.
Indeed, there have been soaring levels of violence against trans and gender non-confirming people during Trump’s presidency, and Black trans women are sadly at the top of the tragic list.
The violence has escalated every year Trump sat in the Oval Office, with at least 44 trans or gender non-conforming people were violently murdered in the US in 2020.
That made 2020 the deadliest year on record for the trans community in the US since the Human Rights Campaign began tracking anti-trans violence.
Trump declined to even recognise the problem, let alone confront it, leading to Biden condemn him for “turning a blind eye” in a campaign speech.
“Solving this epidemic of violence doesn’t just require a president who actually recognises it as fact, but one who believes in the humanity and dignity of transgender people,” he declared.
16. He incited a riot on the US Capitol.
One of Trump’s final acts as president was to order a mob of extremists and white supremacists to march on the US Capitol as it officially counted the Electoral College votes that would certify Joe Biden as president-elect. The resulting deadly riot horrified the world and led to his second impeachment.
Biden represents a life raft to LGBT+ people, Black and Indigenous communities and other people of colour, women, migrants, those who are financially disadvantaged – basically, anybody who isn’t a rich, white, cis man. In inciting the mob that descended upon the Capitol, Trump attacked this life raft and with it, the American people. But, his attempts failed, sealing his legacy as America looks towards a brighter future without him.
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