I was wrong. Again. I’ve known this for some time, but the revelation by the Washington Post that the CDC was handed a list of seven dirty words they were forbidden to use in official documents made it all the more clear. Let’s be fair. Why would an office dedicated to protecting the health of Americans need to use the terms evidence-based or science-based? But the word that drove home to me the depth of my mistake was transgender.
After Donald Trump won the election — shocking even The Donald, with his ginormous ego — I tried to reassure a lesbian friend terrified of losing her marriage. Trump is surprisingly tolerant of the LGBT community, I told her. After all, his political mentor was the red-baiting lawyer Roy Cohn, who died of AIDS. Cohn’s homosexuality was widely known by his friends, his countless enemies, and anyone politically in the know.
Tell me again about the pre-PC era….
A week before his mentor succumbed to AIDS, Donald Trump spoke for the last time with the ostensibly closeted Roy Cohn.
I knew this information from my research. My friend, however, had learned to be afraid from her personal experience.
Fast forward to the early days of the Trump Administration. Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner reportedly scuttled a reversal of gay and transgender workplace protections put in place by the Obama administration. Dear old dad was planning to include the rollback of these very basic LGBT rights in his executive order on “religious liberty.”
Ivanka especially has positioned herself as a LGBT ally. Yet that didn’t stop pop from blindsiding her, after she had been arguing against kicking transgender troops from the military.
She learned about the trans turnaround on her Twitter feed.
Hell, even the military brass is against throwing out loyal, patriotic transgender troops. Indeed, that is an incredibly heartening sign of how far the country has shifted.
Even the Military is Joining the Transgender PRIDE Parade
Once upon a time, the military fought tooth and nail to prevent gay and lesbian soldiers from being allowed to join their ranks. Remember Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT)?
That execrable policy allowed LGBT service members to stay in the military…if they didn’t let anyone find out about their true selves.
The don’t ask part was that ranking officers wouldn’t inquire about sexual orientation. In return, gay and lesbian service members (transgender hadn’t yet entered into the conversation) wouldn’t volunteer that they weren’t heterosexual. And they had to hope that no one with a grudge against them would learn their secrets.
Or they had to remain celibate. And we’ve seen how well that works with Catholic priests.
Even Bill Clinton, under whom the policy was implemented, has repudiated DADT.
Believe it or not, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was considered revolutionary at that time. It’s now rightly seen as hugely discriminatory itself. All told, as many as 100,000 patriotic soldiers were drummed out of the military from World War II until DADT was ended by President Obama in 2011.
Before DADT went into effect, there were dark murmerings about disunity in the ranks if gays, lesbians, and bisexuals were admitted into the military. The dire warnings were voiced not only by those on the right, but often most vociferously within the military itself.
When President Trump announced that he would ban transgender service members from the military, claiming that he was “doing the military a great favor.”
On a fundamental basis, any patriot that wants to serve and meets all the requirements should be able to serve in our military.
This was a highly unusual statement, though Spencer still promised to “march out smartly” and follow the Panderer-in-Chief’s orders. A court has temporarily put the move on hold, ruling that it was inspired by “disapproval of transgender people generally.”
Powerful military advocate John McCain was against DADT, citing the same spurious cohesion concerns that were raised when the military was integrated. Yet he too criticized Trump’s transgender ban, going so far as to back a bill reversing the regressive edict.
The tide has turned and the world has moved on, with the exception of the Religious Right…and especially Trump’s evangelical base. As the president’s approval rating remain in the historical cellar, he’s been forced to repeatedly offer sops to this base.
That creates a feedback loop, as GOP-leaning suburbanites with college degrees jump off the Trump train, leading him to cling ever tighter to those zealots that remain.
This is the man who said on the Republican primary campaign trail that people should use whatever bathroom they feel is appropriate. This was a stunning position for a GOP primary candidate. What was he thinking, many pundits pondered?
Was Trump just saying the first thing that popped in his head? Again. Or perhaps he thought he would sound like he didn’t care about GOP orthodoxy. That he was a new kind of Republican.
Or maybe Trump thought it wouldn’t matter what he said, because he could do whatever he damn well pleased once he was in office.
That’s certainly how Trump has governed. One of his earliest acts as Chief Executive was to overturn an Obama administration policy permitting transgender student to use the bathroom that conformed to their gender identities.
Frankly, I don’t think Trump cares a whit about transgender bathroom access, either way. The president is a man of myriad prejudices, but his past suggests that he’s at least somewhat tolerant of gays.
Indeed, Trump invited PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel to speak at the RNC National Convention.
Once in office, however, the Trump administration has argued before the Supreme Court in defense of a baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. They claimed that forcing the defendant to not discriminate against the couple was a violation of his religious liberty.
Can there be any doubt that Donald Trump will take whatever actions possible to undermine LGBT rights in order to keep his evangelical base happy? Time and time again, his administration has shown that it will dance to whatever tune is on evangelicals’ playlist.
Though I meant well when I tried to reassure my lesbian friend, I’m sure she knew better. Of course, I had no illusions about the character of Donald Trump…or the despicable depths to which he could sink.
Yet, I didn’t appreciate the true extent of his sociopathy. He’ll do anything to anybody to get what he wants. Trump may well be personally sympathetic to LGBT rights.
He simply doesn’t care.
Trump knows that he will never gain the support of the LGBT community outside of Peter Thiel. So…under the bus they go.
The president has shown that he cares more about his ego than ensuring the electoral integrity of the country, after an unprecedented attack from a foreign adversary. What other interests of our nation rank below his own?
Even Roy Cohn took part in persecuting other closeted homosexuals in the “Lavender Scare.” If Trump’s gay political mentor had no compunction against destroying the lives of thousand of LGBT State Department employees, what could keep someone with merely a cosmopolitan sense of acceptance from doing the same?
Ultimately, the only thing the president has truly pledged to protect is the United States of Trump.
My friend has every reason to be scared. And so do you.
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