August 16, 2018
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Trump administration has abandoned transgender Americans. This is dangerous and wrong.

Carolyn Kaster | AP
Carolyn Kaster | AP
In this Sunday, June 11, 2017 file photo, Equality March for Unity and Pride participants march past the White House in Washington.

Perhaps it wasn’t an outright ban, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, like other federal government agencies, is instructing its staff to stay away from certain politically charged words in their official communications.

Earlier this month, the CDC banned seven words from its budget documents, The Washington Post reported. The seven word are: vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, fetus, evidence-based, science-based and transgender.

The director of the CDC, Brenda Fitzgerald, denied that any words had been banned. But she did not deny that some staff may have been instructed to avoid certain language in key budget documents, according to National Public Radio. Seems like a distinction without much difference.

Whatever it is called, instructing federal government employees to not use these words is unwarranted censorship and it is very concerning.

The inclusions of the word transgender is especially alarming as the Trump administration is clearly working to erase transgender Americans from the fabric of this country.

Trump tried to ban transgender Americans from the U.S. military. Federal courts ruled that the administration had provided no evidence that such a ban was necessary, decisions that were reiterated by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday. The court denied the administration’s request for an emergency stay of the lower court rulings, clearing the way for transgender Americans to enlist in the military beginning Jan. 1.

Sen. Susan Collins condemned the move and sponsored legislation to prevent the administration from kicking transgender soldiers out of the military. “If individuals are willing to put on the uniform of our country, be deployed in war zones, and risk their lives for our freedoms, then we should be expressing our gratitude to them, not trying to exclude them from military service,” she said in September.

In October, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed federal policy by sending a memo stating that the 1964 Civil Rights Act does not protect transgender Americans from employment discrimination.

The next day, the Justice Department sent a memo to all federal departments and agencies allowing the government, its contractors and private business to discriminate in the name of religious liberty. Religious groups have long sought to restrict and rollback the rights of LGBT Americans. In a legal battle that has reached the U.S. Supreme Court, the administration sided with a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a gay couple. It argued that forcing the baker to not discriminate, which is what the law requires, would violate his religious beliefs.

The Department of Health and Human Services has announced plans to rollback Obama administration rules that prevent discrimination against transgender individuals under the Affordable Care Act. Previously, the administration said it would not appeal a Texas court’s nationwide injunction that stopped HHS from enforcing provisions that prevent health care discrimination against transgender Americans.

In February, the Trump administration reversed federal guidance to schools directing them to allow students to use bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity. Nearly three-quarters of LGBT youth report being verbally harassed, and a third report having been physically harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, according to a 2013 survey by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network.

More than a third of these students avoid gender-segregated spaces in schools, such as bathrooms and locker rooms. The suicide risk for transgender people is nearly 10 times that of the general population. More than 40 percent of transgender individuals have attempted suicide, according to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey.

The list of actions that diminish LGBT, and especially transgender, Americans goes on and on.

A primary responsibility of the federal government is to ensure the civil rights of all Americans are protected. The Trump administration has targeted transgender Americans by seeking to diminish, and in many cases eliminate, their rights.

This is a shameful abandonment of its constitutional responsibility and sends the dangerous and hurtful message that these Americans are somehow less valuable than others.

They are not.

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