Everyone who was paying attention knew it was coming: The Trump administration was always going to go after trans people. His team of soulless, scapegoating, power-grabbing bigots was always going to roll back the basic civil rights trans people finally won under President Obama and wink at state legislatures to go as hard as they want against trans people, economic and social repercussions — like the ones faced by North Carolina after passing HB2 — be damned. And yesterday we saw one of their first moves. In a joint letter, the Justice Department and Education Department rejected the Obama Administration’s position that a trans student’s right to use public facilities that align with their gender identity is protected by Title IX.
Rather than offering new guidelines for how public schools should make sure transgender students are not discriminated against, the Trump administration simply indicated that protecting trans students is now a state’s rights issue and — despite some level of pressure from Betsy DeVos, weirdly enough — reminded schools that the federal government’s decision to feed vulnerable trans kids to the Republican wolves doesn’t “diminish the protections from bullying and harassment that are available to all students” who should be “able to learn in a safe environment.”
You’ll love the rationale for the decision: too much litigation. The Trump Administration didn’t like all the suing that was happening by kids whose rights were being violated, so they just went ahead and tried to take away those rights to stop the lawsuits. This from a man who tweeted “SEE YOU IN COURT” moments after his Muslim Ban was smacked down by the 9th Circuit.
Despite the apparent infighting between DeVos and Jeff Sessions on the issue, the decision to target trans people was an easy political choice for Trump as it’s one of the only things that naturally marries his “alt-right Breitbart” supporters and white evangelical Christians still claiming a moral high ground by clinging to the GOP. Good ol’ Milo Yiannopoulos led his toxic band of Gamergaters and Men’s Rights Activists on a crusade against trans people, starting by heralding the (failed, but now infamous) “Drop the T from LGBT” campaign with a post on Breitbart that attacked trans women and trans activists with every kind of slur and logical fallacy a person could fit into a 3,000-word screed. Matthew Hopkins, one of the main harassers behind GamerGate joined Milo’s rallying cry and called destroying trans rights “one of the most politically important campaigns of our generation.”
As for the Christian conservatives, they got their marching orders (as they always do) from the Family Research Council, an anti-LGBT lobbying group that uses junk science and cherry picked stats from dubiously conducted studies to misinform pastors at a grassroots level and empower legislators at a state level to target LGBT people. The FRC is a moneymaking machine that has lobbied for conversion therapy and against marriage equality and ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. In 2015, the FRC released a 45-page document called “Understanding and Responding to the Transgender Movement.” It’s full of misinformation and propaganda, and it’s on the back of this “research” that legislators across the country began rolling out bills that prevent trans people from using the correct bathroom, deny incarcerated trans people access to necessary healthcare, and even prevent trans people from gaining access to their vital records.
The modern Republican party has always needed at least one minority group to scapegoat. Without the ability to create propaganda against a dangerous “other” that is out to destroy families, their power is diminished. Few voters will bypass their own fears and stoked prejudices to examine the actual policies (tax cuts and deregulation, hey!) of the GOP. It seems that even Trump and his cronies have recognized that well-funded, well-organized, politically victorious gay rights activists aren’t the minority they want to tangle with, so instead they want to divide and disorder the LGBT community: you’ve got Milo over here trying to isolate the T from LGBT and the Moral Majority over there waiting to pounce.
As Polly Anna Rocha pointed out yesterday, these decisions by Trump’s administration and state legislators specifically target trans women: “We are the ones that conservatives are daring to call men in dresses, we’re the ones that have to face direct physical and systemic violence for living publicly in spite of misconceptions, and yet we’re the ones they claim are out to molest and assault unsuspecting (cisgender) women and children, despite there being zero evidence to back this up.”
Now here’s the ultimate irony: There is no evidence that trans women are likely to be predators. None. However, Breitbart golden boy Milo, Mr. Take the T out of LGBT, just resigned from Breitbart, lost his book deal from Simon and Schuster, and was dropped from the Conservative Political Action Conference after a five-minute video surfaced of him defending “13 year olds” having sex with “older men.” And how about the former executive director of the Family Research Council’s PAC? That’s right: It was Josh Duggar, the man who molested four of his sisters and one of their babysitters. Not only do these people know that trans women don’t pose any threat to cis women, children, or anyone else, but they’re banking on the demonization of trans women to give them and men like them more leeway to do that exact thing.
The Trump Administration’s decision to go after trans people is a happy marriage of policy ideas shaped and espoused by Milo and Duggar. It makes Breitbarters happy. It makes Baptists happy. It makes the lives of trans women and trans kids infinitely more dangerous and terrifying. And it doesn’t do a damn thing to protect anyone besides the men who have proven themselves apologists and perpetrators of sexual assault against children, the very crime they claim to want to keep trans women from committing.