This Trans Day of Visibility, We Must Do More Than Be Visible; We Must Resist

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March 31, 2018

Today marks the 9th annual International Trans Day of Visibility (TDOV), a day designated to lift up transgender and gender-nonconforming (TGNC) communities and our issues. And for Lambda Legal, it’s a day to be proud of the important work we do year-round in securing the full recognition of civil rights for TGNC people.

Since TDOV last year, the Trump administration has waged a relentless campaign of hate against TGNC people. We in Lambda Legal’s Transgender Rights Project (TRP) want to use this day to highlight this violence that the Trump administration has promulgated and propagated against our community:

  • February 2017: Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rescinds Title IX Guidance given to federally funded education institutions on the rights and protections for TGNC students under Title IX.
  • February 2017: The Department of Justice withdraws motion for stay in the Gavin Grimm case. The motion was filed to limit a preliminary injunction enforcing the since-rescinded Title IX Guidance issued by the former administration.
  • March 2017: The Trump administration removes Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity from consideration as a question on the 2020 census.
  • July 2017: Via tweet, President Trump announces that trans people can no longer serve in the military in any capacity, ordering the Department of Defense to reverse their 2015 policy officially allowing transr people to enlist and serve openly.
  • October 2017: Attorney General Jeff Sessions releases guidance from the DOJ rescinding Title VII protections for transgender government employees.
  • December 2017: “Transgender” appears in a list of seven words CDC officials are advised to avoid in their reporting.
  • February 2018: Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announces the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights will no longer review claims filed by trans students denied appropriate restroom access. 
  • March 2018: Trump doubles down on his “Trans Military Ban,” despite three nationwide injunctions issued by federal courts.

Laid bare, it is difficult for our community and our organization to see these actions for anything less than what they are – clear unrestrained transphobia and erasure. The Trump administration has made its stance clear and has placed itself squarely in opposition of everything we stand and fight for at Lambda Legal. While these specific acts focus on the TGNC community, the Trump administration has attacked our entire community. Donald Trump has also nominated a slew of notoriously anti-LGBTQ advocates for cabinet positions, administrative positions, and – most importantly – federal benches.

Intersectionally, the Trump administration has laid out a policy agenda that disparately affects low-income LGBTQ people, LGBTQ people living with disabilities or who have specific health care needs, LGBTQ people of color, and LGBTQ immigrants. Most notably, the administration is seeking to eviscerate and defund the Affordable Care Act and its statutory discrimination protections and cut funding to Housing and Urban Development (HUD) housing assistance programs, food assistance programs like SNAP and TANF, Medicaid/Medicare, and many other federal programs that our communities rely on.

While reeling from this constant barrage of discrimination, we have resisted at every turn. Since January 20, 2017, we have been on the ground and in the courts securing wins and protections for our community:

In more good news, Diana Flynn, a noted transgender attorney and longtime Chief of the Department of Justice’s Appellate Division, is leaving the DOJ and taking on the role of Litigation Director at Lambda Legal. Diana will bring invaluable insight, skill, and direction to our litigation teams.

In addition to our popular Transgender Rights Toolkit, we are also pleased to announce our new comprehensive and empowering online guide for TGNC people seeking resources and trans-led groups in their individual states. The guide was compiled by our wonderful Transgender Rights Project Legal Assistant, Anthony Luken, who joined our team from doing on-the-ground trans activism in Kentucky. Anthony has been instrumental in ensuring we are addressing the needs of TGNC people on both a national and state level.

Finally, as we mark this 9th annual TDOV, we want to reiterate the disparities our communities face in the South. The South has always been a battleground for LGBTQ people, and with the express and implicit messages sent by the Trump administration, many states and localities have felt emboldened in passing legislation targeting LGB – and especially TGNC – people.

Additionally, this past December, Lambda Legal’s Transgender Rights Project Director Dru Levasseur moved to our Southern Regional Office in Atlanta to join the fight in the South along with our Tyron Garner Fellow Taylor Brown. Under the leadership of Dru and Regional Director Simone Bell, the TRP has been on the ground in Atlanta and Georgia fighting for equality. In Macon, Taylor spoke powerfully in support of SOGI-inclusive anti-discrimination legislation. Our team rallied at the state capital against anti-LGBTQ adoption legislation. Members of the TRP have been honored to speak at conferences, law schools, the Georgia state bar association, court programs, and many community events. We are using these opportunities to strengthen our presence in the South and continue our advocacy for the rights of TGNC people in all facets of life.

On this day, we encourage you to lift up the TGNC people in your life and your local TGNC communities, and to show your support for Lambda Legal’s Transgender Rights Project.