The Republican leadership have long made a habit of going after the weakest of their constituents. In order to rally their base or further their quest for small government, they target the impoverished, minorities and refugees. But one of their latest focus points has been particularly disturbing: trans youth.
On Tuesday, President Donald J. Trump announced new guidelines for public schools and transgender students. The new direction would overturn the anti-discrimination protections put in place by the Obama administration that allowed transgender students to use the bathrooms of their gender identity. The coming order will affect mostly public high schools and middle schools. In other words, children are being targeted and bullied by the Trump administration, which is taking away their bodily integrity.
The crusade against transgender rights is in full swing in conservative circles. North Carolina’s infamous “bathroom bill,” commonly referred to as “HB2,” cost the state billions of dollars in business, including the recent NBA All Star Game which was moved to New Orleans out of protest. North Carolina legislators have failed to replace it, although a bipartisan bill to do so was introduced Tuesday afternoon.
Milo Yiannopoulos, self-proclaimed professional provocateur and recently disgraced Breitbart editor, made opposition to transgender rights one of his key issues. On numerous occasions, he compared the defense of transgender rights to – somewhat ironically given recent events – the defense of pedophilia.
Besides the general abhorrence of making a fellow human being’s life as inconvenient as you can, there is the particular despicableness of putting the full weight of the federal government in a battle against transgender youth.
Transgender youth are already suffering. A report issued by the National LGBTQ Task Force showed that 35 percent of K-12 transgender or gender nonconforming students have experienced physical assault at school. After graduation, 26 percent lose their jobs and 20 percent lose housing due to their gender identity. Anywhere from 50-66 percent of transgender people are sexually abused or assaulted in their lives, according to studies cited on the Office for Victims of Crime website. The OVC is part of the Office of Justice programs within the Department of Justice.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a longtime combatant of LGBTQ rights, is the one pushing for the repeal of the Obama administration’s anti-discrimination policies, according to The New York Times. Besides a very weak advocate in Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who reportedly put up a brief fight before agreeing to support the move, there are no obvious champions of transgender rights in the White House.
Sessions has made one of his first moves as attorney general to target a community of Americans that attempts suicide at nine times the rate of cisgender individuals. Half of transgender individuals suffer from depression or anxiety or both. The percentages for the general U.S. population are 6.7 percent for depression and 18 percent for anxiety.
Politics in America have become increasingly polarized over the last few decades. From Newt Gingrich’s rise in the 1990s to the current ascent of Trumpism, there are countless examples of the further radicalization of the American right. For every Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren on the left, on the right there are a dozen Freedom Caucus members in Congress or Sessions acolytes in the White House.
There are many ongoing fights with the Trump administration. More are coming. But this one is important. Like the attempts to ban refugees and deport undocumented immigrants, this is about children. Children who are suffering already.
If those who can fight on behalf of children do not, there will be no stopping Trump and his goons these next four years. Protect trans youth.