Zachary Colao is a sophomore politics major
Last April, then-Republican candidate Donald Trump broke with his party on a critical civil rights issue concerning the LGBTQ+ community: bathrooms. In a reply to the Today Show’s Matt Lauer, Trump indicated that Caitlyn Jenner was welcome to use whichever bathroom she felt comfortable with. Trump, it seemed, was a Republican anomaly. Though most in the LGBTQ+ community took his words as generally insincere and mere pandering, the topic proved to be something that he was not yet decided on. While other candidates like Ted Cruz have definitive opinions against transgender rights, Trump left the door open. Months later, he even claimed, “as your President, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBT citizens” during his speech at the Republican National Convention in Ohio.
That was then. This is now.
Last week, President Trump rolled back the progress former President Obama made for the transgender community. This week, both the Department of Justice and the Department of Education rescinded an order the Obama administration created that provided help for schools to create a safe environment for transgender students. Moreover, this order instructed schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that corresponded with the gender they identified with. Make no mistake, the Trump administration rescinding this order is a direct attack on the LGBTQ+ community.
In a flurry of statements, the Trump administration decried the Obama administration’s federal guidance as legal overreach, as well as unlawful confusion. In the same breath, they—through Press Secretary Sean Spicer—claimed states should have the right to decide on this issue.
Civil rights are not meant to be decided by states. Social freedom should not be a point of contention between any citizen of the United States of America. For the sake of human decency, we should call for complete equality of every citizen regardless of their gender, race, economic status, sexual orientation, religion or lack thereof.
Claiming that states should have the ability to decide what civil rights the American people should have is dangerous. In a retrospective view of history, this conservative argument of “state rights” is the same argument made for every battle they have rightfully lost, like women’s suffrage, Jim Crow laws and same-sex marriage. In this, it is appalling that this administration—and the Republican Party—is comfortable with being on the wrong side of history again.
Transgender rights are human rights and vice versa. People of this community are already at severe risk. While about 4 percent of Americans have said to attempt suicide, the number is over 40 percent for transgender people, per The Williams Institute, a UCLA based think-tank. Moreover, it is important to note that this statistic was gathered when former President Obama’s guidelines were in place. Can we imagine how they’ll increase under the repressive Trump administration? These numbers are staggering. It is atrocious that our country’s most vulnerable youths are under attack by a government led by a man that once promised to protect them.
As freedom-loving Americans, we need to stand up for this community and their innate rights:the rights President Trump is clearly fine with obstructing. This is the antithesis of our best selves. Restrictive policies concerning human freedom never work. What this administration seems to forget is that the more they divide us, the closer we become. They are providing the groundwork for a fierce opposition. In times like these—when our national government is not working for the people—we must stand up at local levels, imploring school boards and municipal politicians to create safe environments for the transgender community, to remind them that they are powerful and certainly not alone.