The past week and a half has been marked by a flurry of leaks and reports that many pundits say could spell, at last, the end of Donald Trump’s campaign for presidency. Or, considering that he very well may not drop out, at least the end of its viability.
This is a relief to a number of groups that make up this country. From Muslim-Americans to immigrants to women and the poor, a Trump presidency would certainly not facilitate progress, but instead, would denigrate their stature and their ability to find comfort and acceptance in the U.S.
One group that has not often been highlighted as a target of Trump are people who identify as transgender, non-binary or gender nonconforming.
Trump has, throughout his campaign, given into more and more hateful ideologies in an effort to court support from far-right voters who may have expressed uncertainty about his stance on certain social issues.
On North Carolina’s violently transphobic and notorious Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act — popularly referred to as HB-2 — Trump responded to the question of whether or not gender-neutral bathrooms should become the norm, with the statement: “I hope not. Because frankly, it would be unbelievably expensive nationwide. It would be hundreds of billions of dollars.”
This is part of a pattern of ignorance, disregard and state-sanctioned disenfranchisement of transgender communities that Trump has shown throughout his campaign.
While transgender issues never quite seemed to grab the national focus of this election for more than a moment, Trump’s defeat would undoubtedly affirm the position of transgender and gender non-conforming people not just in the United States as a whole, but our community at the University of Minnesota as well.
In his last year in office, President Obama has made it a point to advocate for the fair and just treatment of transgender youth in public school across the country. Most notably, he had the Department of Education issue guidance to educators that no transgender student should face discrimination or be made uncomfortable because of their identity but instead be treated with respect.
Trump said that efforts like Obama’s that call for gender neutral bathrooms to be available should not be undertaken in our country because they would be “unbelievably expensive.”
Yet we strongly believe that the Republican candidate for president would not at any point in his presidency speak a single word to enfranchise or embolden transgender rights, an act that comes free of charge.
Make no mistake, like so many marginalized groups, this election is also an existential crisis for the nation’s transgender community. The transgender community, which is strongly represented on this campus, deserves rights and substantive protections — faster — and not the total lack of respect exhibited by Donald Trump.