Trump is the Most Anti-LGBTQ President in American History
Trump is using anti-trans rhetoric, anti-gay appointments, and anti-LGBTQ policies to give the greatest amount of power to the most homophobic and transphobic voices in the history of America. Never have more anti-trans bigots had the power to execute anti-trans policies. Never have more anti-gay political appointees had the power to define the future of LGBTQ lives.
Presidential rhetoric, appointments, and policies that tell queer and trans people their lives are expendable engenders violence. This is clear in the child abuse, sexual violence, depression, self-hate, self-harm, and suicide among queer and trans youth. This is clear in the violence and murder of trans women of color. The increase in these Presidential pronouncements comes from right-wing evangelical extremists who believe queer and trans people do not exist.
The strongest case for Trump being the most anti-LGBTQ president in history comes from right-wing evangelical extremists. They want the White House to make history as an anti-gay and anti-trans institution. This is what they have worked for. They would tell you that they hope and believe this is the most anti-LGBTQ administration in American history. This is their goal.
There is a belief that right-wing evangelical extremists have been looking for a Presidential bully to eviscerate political institutions for years. They believe that Republican presidents have been push-overs. That Republicans in the White House and in the courts have been complicit in the tide toward abortion rights and LGBTQ acceptance. They believe this can be reversed, but that a bully is needed in the White House. They do not need Trump to be a Republican or a Christian. In fact, all the better if he is not. They are tired of “nice-guy” Christian Republican Presidents appointing Supreme Court Justices like Reagan appointee Anthony Kennedy (who wrote many gay rights cases), Sandra Day O’Connor who was decisive in keeping affirmative action, or David Souter who was appointed by H.W. Bush who upheld Roe v. Wade. The goal of right-wing evangelical extremists like Brett Kavanaugh and Mike Pence is to reverse Roe AND Obergefell. They believe that judicial precedent can be reversed immediately with the correct members of the Supreme Court.
I started by noting the role of rhetoric, appointments, and policy, so I would like to close by noting one example of each.
Audre Lorde famously said, “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” This highlights the important role that intersectionality plays in how we consider Trump the worst LGBTQ president. Racism is a queer and trans issue, and sexism, and disability, and healthcare, and poverty.
Trump is also the most anti-LGBTQ President in American history because he is promoting racism, defending white supremacy, and being sexist, and ableist. Trump executes a socio-political worldview that undermines democratic institutions that support LGBTQ equality, including packing the lower courts. Legislatively, this includes pushing states to adopt “religious freedom” laws to create carve outs that make trans and queer people second-class citizens. This also includes abolishing Obamacare that is a safety net for so many queer and trans people.
Trump stated, “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” This hateful statement against Mexicans hurts migrants, undocumented Americans, and is an attack on the LGBTQ community. The Latinx community makes up the second largest percent of LGBTQ people in the nation. According to the Williams Institute, 21% of the LGBTQ community in the U.S. is Latinx. That is one in five queer and trans people.
The most obvious anti-LGBTQ appointment is that of Vice President Pence. Mike Pence is one of the most anti-LGBTQ vice presidents in American history. According to CNN, in the 1990’s Pence stated, “I do not choose whether I am a black American … the great vast majority of the psychological community says homosexuality at a very minimum is a choice by the individual, and at the maximum, is a learned behavior.”
Learned behavior? Pence has been unabashedly anti-LGBTQ for 20 years affecting people in Indiana and the U.S. Pence opposed the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” voted against ENDA, sponsored the proposed amendment to the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage, and supported the RFRA. He is the leading candidate for the 2024 Republican nomination and leads the evangelical wing of the White House. The more than 10 million LGBTQ people in the United States stand to lose so long as this anti-gay bigot is anywhere near the White House. Trump’s appointment of Pence was an attack on the LGBTQ community.
Lastly, what does it say to the transgender community when Trump calls them a “burden” and bans them from open military service. This series of transphobic tweets (below) illustrates how an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. The same arguments against trans service were made about gay, lesbian, and bisexual service. Policies that discriminate tacitly also allow harassment.
People who are transgender disproportionately serve honorably in the military. Today, openly trans people can be refused enlistment and can be fired.
There are a number of theories about why Trump issued the “tweets.” One suggests that there was pressure from the congressional “Freedom Caucus” that said they would not vote to pass his legislative items unless he made the policy change. Here we see a potential example of the right wing evangelical extremists pushing for an anti-trans policy and succeeding. The trans ban was an attack on the LGBTQ community.
In short, Trump cannot have it both ways. You cannot be anti-trans and pro-gay. You cannot be anti-gay and pro-gay. You cannot be racist and pro-LGBTQ, you cannot be sexist and be pro-LGBTQ. The LGBTQ community is an intersectional community that cannot be pitted one against the other. Trump is the most anti-LGBTQ president in American history because that’s the way he wants it.
Dr. Christopher L. Pepin-Neff holds a B.A. in political science, a Master’s in public policy, and a PhD in public policy.