Dear Ellen, We’re Too Tired
“Be Kind to one another” Ellen says, as a rallying cry after social media was aflame with questions of why she was sharing a suite with President George W. Bush. This is a phenomenal sentiment, however, it rings of a privilege many of us in the LGBTQ+ community simply don’t have. So I want to spell out to cisgender straight friends, and unfortunately to Ellen as well, why we are speaking out.
It’s 2019, and for anyone under a rock we are entering year four of the Trump regime. Since 2019 these are the things the Republican Party has done to LGBTQ people, most recently, writing briefs to support firing people because they are gay and trans and arguing that before the Supreme Court on October 8, 2019.
In list form here is what Trump has done to transgender people alone:
September 19, 2019: The Department of Health and Human Services cancelled a plan to explicitly prohibit hospitals from discriminating against LGBTQ patients as a requirement of Medicare and Medicaid funds.
August 16, 2019: The Department of Justice filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that federal law “does not prohibit discrimination against transgender persons based on their transgender status.”
August 14, 2019: The Department of Labor announced a proposed rule that would radically expand the ability of federal contractors to exempt themselves from equal employment opportunity requirements, allowing for-profit and non-profit employers to impose “religious criteria” on employees that could include barring LGBTQ employees.
July 15, 2019: The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security announced an interim final rule that would block the vast majority of asylum-seekers from entering the United States, with deadly consequences for those fleeing anti-LGBTQ violence.
July 8, 2019: The Department of State established a “Commission on Unalienable Rights” aimed at narrowing our country’s human rights advocacy to fit with the “natural law” and “natural rights” views of social conservatives, stating it would seek to “be vigilant that human rights discourse not be corrupted or hijacked or used for dubious or malignant purposes.” (Shortly thereafter, the State Department official tasked with coordinating the new commission was fired for “abusive” management including homophobic remarks.)
July 3, 2019: The Department of Housing and Urban Development removed requirements that applicants for homelessness funding maintain anti-discrimination policies and demonstrate efforts to serve LGBT people and their families, who are more likely to be homeless.
May 24, 2019: The Department of Health and Human Services published a proposed rule that would remove all recognition that federal law prohibits transgender patients from discrimination in health care. Courts across the nation have ruled otherwise.
May 22, 2019: The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a plan to gut regulations prohibiting discrimination against transgender people in HUD-funded homeless shelters.
May 14, 2019: President Trump announced his opposition to the Equality Act (H.R. 5), the federal legislation that would confirm and strengthen civil rights protections for LGBTQ Americans and others.
May 2, 2019: The Department of Health and Human Services published a final rule encouraging hospital officials, staff, and insurance companies to deny care to patients, including transgender patients, based on religious or moral beliefs. This vague and broad rule was immediately challenged in court.
April 19, 2019: The Department of Health and Human Service announced a proposed rule to abandon data collection on sexual orientation of foster youth and foster and adoptive parents and guardians.
April 12, 2019: The Department of Defense put President Trump’s ban on transgender service members into effect, putting service members at risk of discharge if they come out or are found out to be transgender.
March 13, 2019: The Department of Defense laid out its plans for implementing its ban on transgender troops, giving an official implementation date of April 12.
January 23, 2019: The Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights granted an exemption to adoption and foster care agencies in South Carolina, allowing religiously-affiliated services to discriminate against current and aspiring LGBTQ caregivers.
November 23, 2018: The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) erased critical guidance that helped federal agency managers understand how to support transgender federal workers and respect their rights, replacing clear and specific guidance reflecting applicable law and regulations with vaguely worded guidance hostile to transgender workers. While this guidance change did not change the rights of transgender federal workers under applicable law, regulations, Executive Orders, and case law, it is likely to cause confusion and promote discrimination within the nation’s largest employer.
November 19, 2018: The Department of State appealed a court order directing it to issue a passport with a gender-neutral designation to a non-binary, intersex applicant.
October 25, 2018: U.S. representatives at the United Nations worked to remove references to transgender people in UN human rights documents.
October 24, 2018: The Department of Justice submitted a brief to the Supreme Court aruging that it is legal to discriminate against transgender employee, contradicting court rulings that say protections under Title VII in the workplace don’t extend to transgender workers.
October 21, 2018: The New York Times reported that the Department of Health and Human Services proposed in a memo to change the legal definition of sex under Title IX, which would would leave transgender people vulnerable to discrimination.
August 10, 2018: The Department of Labor released a new directive for Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) staff encouraging them to grant broad religious exemptions to federal contractors with religious-based objections to complying with nondiscrimination laws. It also deleted material from an OFCCP FAQ on LGBT nondiscrimination protections that previously clarified the limited scope of allowable religious exemptions.
June 11, 2018: Attorney General Jeff Sessions ruled that the federal government would no longer recognized gang violence or domestic violence as grounds for asylum, adopting a legal interpretation that could lead to rejecting most LGBT asylum-seekers.
May 11, 2018: The Bureau of Prisons in the Department of Justice adopted an illegal policy of almost entirely housing transgender people in federal prison facilities that match their sex assigned at birth, rolling back existing protections.
April 11, 2018: The Department of Justice proposed to strip data collection on sexual orientation and gender identity of teens from the National Crime Victimization Survey.
March 23, 2018: The Trump Administration announced an implementation plan for its discriminatory ban on transgender military service members.
March 20, 2018: The Department of Education reiterated that the Trump administration would refuse to allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms based on their gender identity, countering multiple court rulings reaffirming that transgender students are protected under Title IX.
March 5, 2018: The Department Housing and Urban Development Secretary announced a change to its official mission statement by removing its commitment of inclusive and discrimination-free communities from the statement.
February 18, 2018: The Department of Education announced it will summarily dismiss complaints from transgender students involving exclusion from school facilities and other claims based solely on gender identity discrimination.
January 26, 2018: The Department of Health and Human Services proposed a rule that encourages medical providers to use religious grounds to deny treatment to transgender people, people who need reproductive care, and others.
January 18, 2018: The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights opened a “Conscience and Religious Freedom Division” that will promote discrimination by health care providers who can cite religious or moral reasons for denying care.
December 29, 2017: President Trump fired the White House Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. The transgender community is disproportionately affected by HIV.
December 20, 2017: President Trump nominated Gordon P. Giampietro to serve as a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Giampietro called marriage equality “an assault on nature.” Giampietro’s nomination was eventually withdrawn.
December 14, 2017: Staff at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were instructed not to use the words “transgender,” “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “fetus,” “evidence-based,” and “science-based” in official documents.
October 6, 2017: The Justice Department released a sweeping “license to discriminate” allowing federal agencies, government contractors, government grantees, and even private businesses to engage in illegal discrimination, as long as they can cite religious reasons for doing so.
October 5, 2017: The Justice Department released a memo instructing Department of Justice attorneys to take the legal position that federal law does not protect transgender workers from discrimination.
October 2, 2017: President Trump nominated Kyle Duncan to serve as a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Duncan has dedicated his career to limiting the rights of transgender people, and even defended the anti-trans parties in the North Carolina’s infamous HB2 debacle and the school district that discriminated against Gavin Grimm.
September 7, 2017: The Justice Department filed a legal brief on behalf of the United States in the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing for a constitutional right for businesses to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and, implicitly, gender identity.
September 7, 2017: President Trump nominated Gregory G. Katsas to serve as a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Katsas played a central role in helping Trump ban qualified transgender people serving in the miiltary.
September 7, 2017: President Trump nominated Matthew J. Kacsmaryk to serve as a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas. Kacsmaryk opposes LGBTQ protections in housing, employment, & and health care, and called transgender people a “delusion.”
September 7, 2017: President Trump nominated Jeff Mateer to become a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. Mateer called transgender children part of “Satan’s plan” and openly supported debunked and dangerous “conversion therapy.” Mateer’s nomination was eventually withdrawn.
August 25, 2017: President Trump released a memo directing Defense Department to move forward with developing a plan to discharge transgender military service members and to maintain a ban on recruitment.
July 26, 2017: President Trump announced, via Twitter, that “the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”
July 26, 2017: The Justice Department filed a legal brief on behalf of the United States in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, arguing that the 1964 Civil Rights Act does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or, implicitly, gender identity.
July 13, 2017: President Trump nominated Mark Norris to the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. Norris has worked to make it easier to discriminate against LGBTQ people, and even worked to discriminate specifically against transgender kids.
June 14, 2017: The Department of Education withdrew its finding that an Ohio school district discriminated against a transgender girl. The Department gave no explanation for withdrawing the finding, which a federal judge upheld.
May 2, 2017: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a plan to roll back regulations interpreting the Affordable Care Act’s nondiscrimination provisions to protect transgender people.
April 14, 2017: The Justice Department abandoned its historic lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s anti-transgender law. It did so after North Carolina replaced HB2 with a different anti-transgender law known as “HB 2.0.”
April 4, 2017: The Departments of Justice and Labor cancelled quarterly conference calls with LGBT organizations; on these calls, which had happened for years, government attorneys shared information on employment laws and cases.
March 31, 2017: The Justice Department announced it would review (and likely seek to scale back) numerous civil rights settlement agreements with police departments. These settlements were put in places where police departments were determined to be engaging in discriminatory and abusive policing, including racial and other profiling. Many of these agreements include critical protections for LGBT people.
March 2017: The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) removed links to four key resource documents from its website, which informed emergency shelters on best practices for serving transgender people facing homelessness and complying with HUD regulations.
March 28, 2017: The Census Bureau retracted a proposal to collect demographic information on LGBT people in the 2020 Census.
March 24, 2017: The Justice Department cancelled a long-planned National Institute of Corrections broadcast on “Transgender Persons in Custody: The Legal Landscape.”
March 13, 2017: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that its national survey of older adults, and the services they need, would no longer collect information on LGBT participants. HHS initially falsely claimed in its Federal Register announcement that it was making “no changes” to the survey.
March 13, 2017: The State Department announced the official U.S. delegation to the UN’s 61st annual Commission on the Status of Women conference would include two outspoken anti-LGBT organizations, including a representative of the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-FAM): an organization designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
March 10, 2017: The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced it would withdraw two important agency-proposed policies designed to protect LGBT people experiencing homelessness. One proposed policy would have required HUD-funded emergency shelters to put up a poster or “notice” to residents of their right to be free from anti-LGBT discrimination under HUD regulations.
The other announced a survey to evaluate the impact of the LGBTQ Youth Homelessness Prevention Initiative, implemented by HUD and other agencies over the last three years. This multi-year project should be evaluated, and with this withdrawal, we may never learn what worked best in the project to help homeless LGBTQ youth.
March 8, 2017: Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) removed demographic questions about LGBT people that Centers for Independent Living must fill out each year in their Annual Program Performance Report. This report helps HHS evaluate programs that serve people with disabilities.
March 2, 2017: The Department of Justice abandoned its request for a preliminary injunction against North Carolina’s anti-transgender House Bill 2, which prevented North Carolina from enforcing HB 2. This was an early sign that the Administration was giving up defending trans people (later, on April 14, it withdrew the lawsuit completely).
March 1, 2017: The Department of Justice took the highly unusual step of declining to appeal a nationwide preliminary court order temporarily halting enforcement of the Affordable Care Act’s nondiscrimination protections for transgender people. The injunction prevents HHS from taking any action to enforce transgender people’s rights from health care discrimination.
February 22, 2017: The Departments of Justice and Education withdrew landmark 2016 guidance explaining how schools must protect transgender students under the federal Title IX law.
January 31, 2017: President Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Gorsuch has a history of anti-transgender rulings.
January 20, 2017: On President Trump’s inauguration day, the adminstration scrubbed all mentions of LGBTQ people from the websites of the White House, Department of State, and Department of Labor.
All of these statements are courtesy of The National Center for Transgender Equality.
The Discrimination Administration
Trump's record of action against transgender peopleSince the day President Trump took office, his administration has…
Now, if you scrolled through that last, I won’t blame you, but that is just want this administration, a Republican administration has done to transgender Americans. Not to mention the whole killing a transgender woman at the border by ICE, or continuing to remove LGBTQ protections from workers. And guess what, President Bush has went on record ZERO times about any of these actions. As President this man also sought to pass an amendment to the Constitution that would have forever barred LGBTQ+ couples from marriage rights, and protections.
So for four years many of us have been fighting against these actions, and have felt the brunt of them. I myself have faced workplace discrimination, and harassment in two places of employment in the last two years alone. Further, over 100 transgender women have been killed in the United States since Donald Trump and the Republicans came to power in Washington.
So when Ellen says be kind, it rings hollow, because the other side isn’t being kind. In what ways have Republicans been kind to LGBTQ+ people? Is the simple act of refusing to bake a cake kind? Is firing someone for whom they love kind? No, it is not, and telling those of us facing this discrimination, job uncertainty, and threats to our lives we need to calm down and be kind smacks of willful ignorance of what we face each day.
Further more, Ellen, this year is apologizing and standing up for the wrong people. Our frustration boils over with President Bush because you apologized for me and the entire LGBTQ community to Kevin Hart who still thinks it is funny to talk about hitting his child over the head with a dollhouse if he acts in a way that doesn’t fit what being masculine is.
So we are tired of being told to be nice, while our very lives are at stake because we aren’t rich and famous. Ellen, as a white cis woman, you don’t know the fear trans women, and trans women of color shake with daily. Yes you experienced a traumatic amount of hate when you came out, but now you have your own show, your own brand, and a five figure suite at a Cowboys game, come back to us, and see us again. Don’t attack your own family for us being disappointed.
We are fighting, and we need our matriarch back.
To my cisgender straight friends that have shared #KindnessMatters today, believe check your privilege as well. Today I had to watch the news for reads on if I have a right to work in the US, what came up in the news that impacted your right to work, marriage and human dignity? If you would like me to be less loud, will you speak up? If you want me to stop protesting, will you stand up for me? If kindness matters so much, please hold the Republican party to the same standard of kindness you want to give to my oppressors.