By David T. Valentin
Only a few hours ago, on Monday Biden’s administration announces that it will reverse Trump-era policies limiting health protections against discrimination for gay and transgender people.
Back in June of last year, Trump’s administration redefined HHS (Department of Health and Human Services) protections against discrimination to exclude transgender people. The policies, which previously extended civil rights protections in health care to include gender identity, continued to protect citizens against discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability.
But under Trump’s administration, the policy narrowed the definition of sex to mean only “biological sex”, male and female, thus excluding transgender people from protection. As stated by the HHS at the time, “according to the plain meaning of the word ‘sex’ as male or female and as determined by biology.”
Trump’s decision came at the beginning of Pride month and the four-year anniversary of the Pulse gay nightclub mass shooting where 49 people were killed, which riled up LGBTQ+ activists across the country.
Trump’s decision, however, was not shocking given his early ban of Transgender people being able to join the military, the removal of LGBTQ issues from the official White House webpage, and his reversal of Transgender protections in a slew of other areas. His removal of Transgender protections in the health field was only a continuation of a streak of anti-LGBTQ+ policies.
As NPR noted in an article back in March of last year, Trump’s administrations anti-LGBTQ+ laws were a “whiplash” when compared to Obama’s progressive streak of pro-LGBTQ+ policies which moved to ensure equality for LGBTQ+ citizens in numerous areas.
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra issued a statement this morning explaining the reversal as continuing the push to give every U.S. citizen health care. He said, “Fear of discrimination can lead individuals to forgo care, which can have serious negative health consequences.”
Biden’s administration’s decision to reinstate LGBTQ+ protections in health services is only the beginning of undoing four years of damage against LGBTQ+ U.S. citizens under Trump’s administration and the first steps in fulfilling the ambitious promises Joe Biden made to the LGBTQ+ community during his campaign for president last year.
But despite Biden’s protection policies for LGBTQ+ citizens, the last four years have left a hatefully ignorant scar on the Transgender. The Trump’s administration’s clear message of misinformed and ignorant anti-LGBTQ+ policies has left the image of the Trans community as a negative one in the minds of some Americans; a misinformed and ignorant image that has clearly emboldened individuals to openly express their misinformed and hateful views of Transgender individuals.
According to the 2019 Uniform Crime Report, hate crimes against transgender and gender nonconforming individuals soared 20%, a number that may even be higher considering that not all victims are identified according to their gender expression.
In other words, protection policies for LGBTQ+ people with proper repercussions against individuals who do discriminate is a must, but to undo the four years of anti-transgender rhetoric will require education from the bottom up. Not only do we need government policies to ensure LGBTQ+ protection, but we must actively fight against anti-transgender rhetoric and educate in our households, our classrooms, and in our workforces or else history is doomed to repeat itself.