On Feb. 22, President Donald Trump rescinded Obama administration guidelines to protect transgender people and allow them to use the bathroom matching their gender identity nationwide.
Obama first enacted these protections in May 2016 after the explosive debate surrounding a North Carolina law forcing transgender students to comply with their birth assigned gender. The Obama administration based their protections on nondiscrimination laws, which interpret sex discrimination to extend to gender identity discrimination.
A federal judge placed an injunction on the orders back in August to protect state rights and to look further into the legality of the motion. Now, as the guidelines begin to reemerge for rulings, the Trump administration took a stand.
Despite being neutral and forgiving to the transgender community in his campaign, President Trump removed transgender bathroom protections, viewing the problem as a state-level issue that does not reflect the views of the majority of America. He does not believe the federal government has the authority to enforce this rule nationally, and would rather provide local schools the choice of whether to offer these protections or not.
The bathroom debate created a rift within the already uncertain Trump administration, as well. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos originally resisted the idea of revoking transgender protection, worried for the safety of transgender students across the nation. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a known opposer of LGBT and civil rights groups, attempted to dissuade DeVos but failed.
Only after Trump sided with Sessions and demanded her obedience, did Secretary DeVos agree to drop the protections. She released a statement with her decision urging schools to adopt the protections and prevent bullying to safeguard their students. She also argued for the illegality of enforcing them nationwide.
Despite the drop of these federal guidelines, anti-bullying policies will remain in place and each state will be able to determine their own local stance.
Transgender students in certain areas, however, will be forced to use the bathroom of their assigned sex. This decision could also affect upcoming court cases, including the case of Gavin Grimm, a seventeen year old transgender man suing his Virginia school district. The case is set to appear before the Supreme Court, and their decision could set a new precedent for transgender rights.
Trump’s decision to revoke transgender protections and the upcoming Grimm case sparked waves of protesters in several cities – these protesters dislike Trump’s new stance and committed to fight for transgender rights. However, the loss of these protections will affect transgender rights in the future, and marks a crucial milestone in civil rights group’s fight.