Following the Trump administration's latest decision to prohibit the use of certain words, gay rights activists are convinced that its lack of support for gay rights will be its downfall in the midterm elections. The latest example, some say, suggests the administration's attempts to erase transgender Americans from public-health conversations.
The Washington Post recently reported that the Trump administration is prohibiting officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from using a list of seven terms, including “transgender” and “diversity,” in official documents being prepared for next year's budget.
Policy analysts at the nation's top public-health agency were told that the other terms they would not be able to use are “fetus,” “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”
The Post reported:
The question of how to address such issues as sexual orientation, gender identity and abortion rights — all of which received significant visibility under the Obama administration — has surfaced repeatedly in federal agencies since President Trump took office. Several key departments — including HHS, as well as Justice, Education, and Housing and Urban Development — have changed some federal policies and how they collect government information about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, one of the nation's largest LGBT rights groups, called the move “ignorant” and predicted it will lead to real political repercussions for the Republican leaders.
“A promise to Trump & Pence: your ignorant attempts to erase transgender people will backfire. We will counter your hatred by being louder and more visible than ever before. Don’t take my word for it — ask Roy Moore & Pat McCrory. You’re next. #2018 #2020,” he tweeted.
Members of Alabama's LGBT community were among the liberal activists who helped defeat Republican Roy Moore last week in the U.S. Senate race there after he ran on a campaign of promoting traditional "Christian” values. Moore had previously suggested that homosexuality should be illegal.
A promise to Trump & Pence: your ignorant attempts to erase transgender people will backfire. We will counter your hatred by being louder and more visible than ever before. Don’t take my word for it—ask Roy Moore & Pat McCrory. You’re next. #2018 #2020 https://t.co/WYTgjBIHIa
— Chad Griffin (@ChadHGriffin) December 16, 2017
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a supporter of gay rights who represents one of the country's largest LGBT communities, claimed that the Trump administration wants to delete some of these people from Americans' consciousness.
Republicans want to deliberately control your thoughts and words.
‘science-based' are some of which they want to delete from your mind.
— Nancy Pelosi (@TeamPelosi) December 17, 2017
Gabrielle Bellot expanded upon this idea in a column for Them, an LGBT news publication:
“Language shapes our map of the world. If 'transgender' ceases to exist as a term in official government documents, we, too, begin to vanish. It is easier for a cisgender administrator, who we might hope to have as an ally, to forget about our concerns when the government mandates that we be forgotten ourselves.”
After much criticism of the decision, CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald took to social media to argue that agency is still committed to addressing the topics its budget documents won't mention.
You may be understandably concerned about recent media reports alleging that CDC is banned from using certain words in budget documents. I want to assure you that CDC remains committed to our public health mission as a science- and evidence-based institution.
— Dr Brenda Fitzgerald (@CDCDirector) December 17, 2017
The GOP made gay-affirming strides at the Republican National Convention in 2016, including with a gay speaker and an acknowledgment of the LGBT community in Trump's speech accepting the party's presidential nomination.
“As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology, believe me,” he said.
But since then, gay activists argue, the Trump administration has made multiple decisions detrimental to LGBT Americans and their supporters. Trump would not recognize National Pride Month in June and did not highlight the unique challenges the LGBT community faces in his World AIDS Day proclamation. The U.S. Census does not plan to include LGBT-related questions in its 2020 count.
Following recent losses by Trump-backed candidates whose views on LGBT issues are arguably hostile, Griffin and others like him have predicted that the administration's positions could hurt the GOP at a time when most Americans support at least some gay rights.
While Trump sought to halt transgender people from military service, most of the country opposes him. Nearly 6 in 10 — 58 percent — of adults agreed that “transgender people should be allowed to serve in the military” in a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll. And while many Americans who voted for Trump do not support same-sex marriage, most Americans — 62 percent — do, according to a Pew Research Center poll.
After recent elections, transgender politicians — including newly elected Virginia Del. Danica Roem (D-Prince William) — and those working on policy issues affecting them are increasingly visible. If more voters see the Trump administration as treating members of the LGBT community as lesser Americans, it could be disastrous for a political party that is already struggling to remain popular with the electorate.