President-elect Joe Biden specifically mentioned trans people in his acceptance speech the other evening. Trans people worldwide breathed a sigh of relief: while the US presidency is of course directly relevant to the American people, Trump’s embrace of anti-LGBT+ evangelists had, and has, worldwide effects.
If you’re not trans, you might wonder why a mere mention got so many of us so emotional. Here’s writer Parker Molloy, posting on Twitter.
There have been several times during this presidency that I woke up, looked at my phone, and felt my heart just sink through the floor because the president is a needlessly, intentionally cruel person.
This was one of the days, back in 2017. https://www.cnn.com/2017/07/26/politics/trump-military-transgender/index.html [link goes to story about Trump’s ban on trans people serving in the military]
It just came out of nowhere. And while I’ve never been in the military, never will be… it’s usually a bad sign when governments start singling out groups to ban from things like their militaries.
His rationale didn’t make sense. The cost was minimal, there hadn’t been problems since the ban was lifted during the Obama era, etc.
But the reason that hit me with such a sense of unease was that if you can convince people who go around talking about how much they love “the troops,” and convince them that some of those troops should be kicked out with a new policy based solely on who they are, you can CERTAINLY convince the public to accept government-sanctioned discrimination against those who aren’t in the military.
It was a very “oh shit, he’s going to really start leaning into a series of policies aimed at hurting trans people.” And he did. Pretty consistently from there on out.
And then it later came out that he just did it on a whim. There was no legitimate need, he just wanted to make the bigots in the House Freedom Caucus happy (their name is very ironic. “Freedom”) and didn’t want to go to a meeting.
During his presidency, Trump didn’t just institute a ban on trans people in the military. His administration and his evangelical friends attempted to exclude trans people from human rights protections, attempted to permit employment discrimination against trans people, and decided to make it legal for doctors and emergency responders to refuse any healthcare to trans people. And as Molloy says, that’s just us. The last four years have been an unending assault on marginalised people of every kind.
In that context, to hear the US President-to-be mention trans people without an insult and without an announcement of yet another threat to our human rights is cause for celebration. That’s how low the bar is for us right now.
I can’t say I’m sad to see the end of an era where I’m going to have to wonder if I’m going to wake up to the president tweeting out a deranged attack on people like me just for the fun of it.