A timeline of the anti-LGBTQ Trump administration

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo giving a press conference. (Youtube Screenshot)

From removing protections for LGBTQ people in housing and shelters to allowing discrimination in medical care, President Trump’s hand-picked homophobes and transphobes who served in his cabinet have wrought havoc on queer and trans communities throughout the four years of the Trump presidency. The Cabinet and former Cabinet members who have done the most damage are names LGBTQ people should not forget: Dr. Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services; Bill Barr, Attorney General; Dr. Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education; Gen. John Kelly, Secretary of Homeland Security and White House Chief of Staff; Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security; Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State; Jeff Sessions, Attorney General; Chad Wolf, Secretary of Homeland Security.

January 2017

Less than two hours after Trump and his virulently anti-LGBTQ activist Vice President Mike Pence were sworn into office, the LGBTQ webpages, citations, references, helplines, and more were removed from the official White House webpage. Three days later, former Secretary of State John Kerry’s apology for President Eisenhower’s Executive Order 10450 and the Lavender Scare was removed from the State Department website.

February 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos directed the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education to revoke the Obama administration’s guidelines outlining schools’ obligations to transgender students under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

March 2017

Dr. Ben Carson, HUD Secretary with a long history of anti-LGBTQ statements, took out Obama-era initiatives protecting LGBTQ people in housing and shelters. Carson withdrew a requirement for emergency shelters receiving HUD funding to post information about LGBTQ people’s rights to access shelter safely and in accordance with their gender identity. Carson also withdrew critical data collection and implementation guidelines for a homelessness prevention initiative targeting LGBTQ youth. Also in March 2017, HHS removed a question about LGBT people from a survey on the elderly. HHS uses the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants (NSOAAP) to determine allocation of federal funds to groups that work with the elderly. Only the LGBT question was removed.

June 2017

The State Department hired anti-transgender activist Bethany Kozma to head the Office of Gender Equality and Women’s Rights at USAID (US Agency for International Development).

September 2017

DeVos officially rescinded 2011 Title IX guidelines related to schools’ obligations to address sexual harassment and sexual assault. LGBTQ students are disproportionately impacted by both.

October 2017

AG Sessions issued a memo through the Department of Justice (DOJ) to government lawyers rescinding Obama administration guidance that discrimination protections under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1965 apply to transgender people. The DOJ instructed U.S. attorneys to adopt this position in all pending and future cases. Also in October 2017, the National Park Services withdrew is sponsorship of New York City’s first permanent Pride Flag outside the Stonewall Inn

January 2018

HHS launched the “Division of Conscience and Religious Freedom,” which enables discrimination against LGBTQ people and women. The division and its “conscience proviso” would empower health care providers to deny LGBTQ people and women necessary care, and deter healthcare organizations and providers from taking necessary action to guarantee that all patients have access to the care they are legally entitled to.

February 2018

The Department of Education announced they will refuse to respond to civil rights complaints filed by transgender students who are barred from using bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity.

June 2018

AG Sessions issues a ruling that disallows seeking asylum based on personal violence.

October 2018

HHS made plans to narrowly define sex and gender in all their regulations, altering protections for LGBTQ people and vitiating enforcement of existing LGBTQ civil rights protections. The same month, Trump’s Solicitor General, Noel Francisco, argued to the Supreme Court that civil rights protections banning employment discrimination does not cover transgender employees. Also in October 2018, the State Department announced a policy that same-sex, unmarried partners of United Nations employees will not be granted visas to stay in the U.S.

November 2018

DeVos proposed changes to Title IX prioritizing students accused of sexual assault over sexual assault victims on college campuses.

January 2019

HHS proposed changes to Medicare Part D that would remove protections for people living with HIV and AIDS and other chronic conditions to access medications and treatments.

March 2019

In the Fiscal Year Budget for 2020, $250 million is cut from the Global Fund, $1.5 billion from PEPFAR, and “limit future spending” placed on Medicaid — three major components to the ongoing fight against HIV and AIDS, via the State Department and HHS.

May 2019

HHS announced a final version of a regulation allowing healthcare providers to refuse to provide services, including lifesaving care, for LGBTQ patients based on their religious beliefs. HHS also proposed a change to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), altering Section 1557 of the ACA to remove explicit protections for LGBTQ people in healthcare programs and activities by excluding protections from discrimination based on sex stereotyping and gender identity, impacting all LGBTQ people and women.

June 2019

HHS proposed a rule change to end data collection of sexual orientation of youth in foster care and of foster and adoptive parents and guardians in the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System. The same month, two trans women are killed in ICE custody at U.S. Custody and Border Protection.

August 2019

The DOJ submitted a brief to the Supreme Court asserting that Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination does not include transgender employees, referring to the case of EEOC v. Harris Funeral Homes. Also in August 2019, the Department of Labor proposed religious exemptions to an existing order prohibiting discrimination against the employees of federal contractors and subcontractors. The exemptions would allow discrimination against LGBTQ people and women.

September 2019

Ben Carson made anti-transgender comments with regard to housing and shelters during a visit to HUD’s San Francisco office.

October 2019

Lesbians denied asylum by DHS despite fear of death in their home countries.

November 2019

HHS removed non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people that resulted in allowing HHS grant recipients, such as adoption and foster care agencies, to discriminate against LGBTQ people and still receive federal funding.

December 2019

Pompeo and the U.S. State Department, in conjunction with the repressive governments of Hungary and Brazil, organized a conference featuring well-known promoters of anti-LGBTQ policies.

January 2020

The Interior Department deleted “sexual orientation” from its anti-discrimination guidelines. The same month, HHS proposed rules revising regulations that guide the participation of faith-based organizations as service providers of federally funded programs, allowing for anti-LGBTQ discrimination.

March 2020

The DOJ filed a statement in support of an ongoing Connecticut court case claiming that transgender girls are “biological males” and not protected under Title IX.

April 2020

HHS refused to reopen the healthcare marketplace of the ACA to those whose health insurance was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving 20 million Americans, including LGBTQ people, without healthcare coverage.

June 2020

HHS publishes its decision to end civil rights protections in the implementation of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which protects against discrimination based on sex stereotyping and gender identity. Also in June 2020, AG Barr ordered peaceful protesters — including many LGBTQ people — tear-gassed outside the White House during racial justice protests following the murder of George Floyd.

July 2020

New rules proposed by the DOJ proposed ending asylum for LGBT+ individuals.

August 2020

Pompeo’s USAID hire Merritt Corrigan was forced to resign from on August 3 after an anti-LGBT+ tirade on Twitter in which she made overtly homophobic and transphobic comments. Pompeo also ramped up assault on LGBT+ people via USAID.

October 2020

Pompeo signed the anti-LGBT+ and anti-abortion “Geneva Consensus Declaration” with 32 authoritarian nations known for their anti-LGBT+ and misogynist policies. The same month, the Department of Education allowed faith-based schools to use religion as a “right to discriminate” against LGBT teachers and staff and for removing pro-LGBT curriculum.

November 2020

HHS allowed taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to use “religious beliefs” as an excuse to deny placement of children in the homes of LGBT couples.

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Victoria A. Brownworth
Victoria A. Brownworth is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore Sun, DAME, The Advocate, Bay Area Reporter and Curve among other publications. She was among the OUT 100 and is the author and editor of more than 20 books, including the Lambda Award-winning Coming Out of Cancer: Writings from the Lesbian Cancer Epidemic and Ordinary Mayhem: A Novel, and the award-winning From Where They Sit: Black Writers Write Black Youth and Too Queer: Essays from a Radical Life.