Last July, I watched the Republican National Convention for the first time in nearly 30 years. As I wrote at that time, I was disgusted by the display of cosmetic diversity and by Donald Trump’s awkward reference to the “LGBTQ community”, sounding out each letter in the acronym as if it were a new, unfamiliar term to him (which it likely was). Trending Google searches for the term indicated that a fair number of US-Americans didn’t know what the acronym (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning) referred to either.
Despite his profession of support, I knew full well that Trump was not an ally to LGBTQ people like myself any way, shape or form. Allowing Peter Thiel — a wealthy, white cisgender gay man — to speak at the convention only showed that Republicans might accommodate those in the community who are willing and able to assimilate. Cisgender white gay men have always been prioritized in LGBTQ advocacy, which is part of why conservatives largely stopped fighting against same-sex marriage and turned to attacking more marginalized members of the community, like transgender folks.
Once Trump took office in January, his administration wasted little time in demonstrating their contempt for those they professed to support. In February, the departments of justice and education withdrew federal guidance that had stated that trans students should be allowed to use restrooms and locker rooms in accordance with their gender identity. In July, Trump announced that trans people would not be allowed to serve in the military.
Three more attacks on the the rights and dignity of LGBTQ people came down just this past week. On October 4, Attorney General Jeff Sessions released a memo stating that the federal civil rights law does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. On October 6, Sessions issued a directive that prioritized religious beliefs over anti-discrimination protections. And at the United Nations, the United States voted against a resolution condemning the use of the death penalty as punishment for same-sex relations.
Now, politicians are notorious liars, and both Democrats and Republicans break campaign promises all the time. But I do wonder if anyone who was on the fence about voting for Trump was convinced to do so because of his lies about supporting the LGBTQ community. This is not in any way an endorsement of the Democratic Party; I am politically unaffiliated, and I did not vote for Hillary Clinton. I blame Trump voters and Trump voters alone for Trump’s election. But I am not naïve enough to believe that the two major U.S. parties are exactly the same when it comes to their stance on LGBTQ rights.
I fear a future where LGBTQ rights in the U.S. are eroded to the point that we are literally and legally targeted for extermination. I am not exaggerating. The failure of the U.S. to support the U.N. resolution should alarm even those who are normally indifferent to issues regarding sexual orientation (which is distinct from gender identity). No matter what your personal feelings are about gay, lesbian, and bisexual people, putting someone to death for having sexual relations cannot be defended. (I do not feel it necessary to prefix sexual relations with “consensual”, because non-consensual sex — which includes sex with minors, who cannot give consent — is rape.)
The very existence of the LGBTQ community — trans people in particular — is under attack. We must resist further erosion of our rights and dignity, not just as US-American citizens, but as human beings.