While seeking the Republican nomination for president in 2016, Donald Trump told members of the LGBTQ community that he would be their champion.
Trump vowed to be a "real friend" to gay, lesbian and transgender Americans. He later tweeted, "Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs."
Trump even unfurled a rainbow flag--albeit upside down--at a campaign event in Greeley, Colo., just days before the election. Scrawled on the flag in black marker was the phrase "LGBTs for TRUMP."
Two years into the Trump presidency, it's clear that these claims weren't just hyperbolic, they were aggressively false. Trump, at the behest of his Religious Right backers, is proving himself to be one of the worst presidents in modern memory when it comes to LGBTQ policies. His administration has repeatedly rolled back LGBTQ rights, often under the claim that it is advancing "religious freedom."
Advocates for the LGBTQ community are understandably furious.
"Donald Trump was a con man when he ran for office, and he is a con man today," said Sarah McBride, national press secretary of the Human Rights Campaign. "The LGBTQ community could see through Donald Trump's empty promises, which is why we voted against him with a record margin. Since day one of this administration, Donald Trump and Mike Pence have sought to roll back the clock on our progress and sought to license discrimination against LGBTQ people, particularly transgender people."
Most recently, The New York Times reported that the Trump administration has prepared a draft policy that would narrowly define gender as a biological condition, based on genitalia at birth, that cannot change. If implemented, this policy, The Times noted, would be "the most drastic move yet in a government-wide effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law."
"Sex means a person's status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth," the draft memo reads. "The sex listed on a person's birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person's sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence."
Members of the transgender community responded quickly, pointing out that a change like that would have the effect of denying their very existence, thus jeopardizing their ability to take part in a range of government programs.
"This proposal is an attempt to put heartless restraints on the lives of 2 million people, effectively abandoning our right to equal access to health care, to housing, to education or to fair treatment under the law," said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, in a statement. "This administration is willing to disregard the established medical and legal view of our rights and ourselves to solidify an archaic, dogmatic and frightening view of the world. This transparent political attack will not succeed administratively, legally or morally."
Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United, also criticized the proposal.
"Yet again, the Trump-Pence administration is catering to a narrow segment of evangelical Christians and granting special status to their beliefs in federal policy," Laser asserted. "That is unacceptable. We stand with the transgender community and will continue to advocate to keep religion and government separate.
"This administration," she added, "continues its attempts to divide us and implement policies that promote hate and discrimination. We will not allow religious beliefs to be used to erase the recognition of and protections for transgender people."
In an open letter, the leaders of several prominent businesses--including Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Uber, Facebook, Bank of America, Coke and Pepsi--blasted the proposal.
"Transgender people are our beloved family members and friends, and our valued team members," the letter read. "What...