By Bryan Ball
To lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans, President-elect Donald Trump brings great anxiety. Like many marginalized communities denigrated during the campaign, the loss of the election for the LGBT community is more than Hillary Clinton. For LGBT Americans, dealing with hate is a reality. This year, we saw our community targeted during the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.
We turn to our government to protect us from threats of violence and discrimination. And the election of a president and Congress opposed to LGBT rights places our future in a great state of uncertainty.
Recent history has seen LGBT rights make historic progress. The Supreme Court upheld marriage as a constitutional right. President Obama issued executive orders prohibiting discrimination against LGBT federal employees and contractors, and directed our nation’s public schools to allow transgender youth to use bathrooms that match their gender identity.
Trump has termed marriage equality a settled matter. However, he continues to promise to appoint strictly conservative judges to the Supreme Court. While overturning the marriage decisions would take multiple new judges and a case being brought, Trump could fill multiple vacancies, creating the potential for a future ruling for families to lose the protections and rights of marriage a reality.
Transgender rights appear even more uncertain. Currently, federal discrimination protections for transgender people are provided to federal employees by executive order.
If Trump makes good on his pledge to rescind his predecessor’s executive actions, transgender people will not be able to update their gender on passports or with the Social Security Administration without proof of gender transition surgery. We have medically progressed to understand gender not as a physical concept but one of the mind. To force Americans to be presented to potential employers or health care providers as a gender they are not is an indignity no American should have to face.
It is easy to view these threats as improbable. However, we remember California’s Proposition 8, where public referendum voided legal marriages. In recent years, state legislation has passed explicitly allowing LGBT discrimination in Indiana and North Carolina. In New York, LGBT people are protected by state laws and executive actions, and that provides solace.
However, the laws of our federal government affect everyone, and if the promises of the campaign come to fruition, these will be trying times for the LGBT community. While LGBT rights may have lost this election, all is not. Since the dawn of the gay rights movement, to the Stonewall riots, the HIV/AIDS crisis and beyond – we have never given up.
We’ve lobbied our government, Democrats and Republicans alike, and we will continue to fight to keep the equality we have gained, and obtain the equality we have yet to achieve.
Bryan Ball, of Buffalo, is president of the Stonewall Democrats of Western New York.