Here Are 7 Ways LGBTQIA+ Rights Have Changed In The Past Year
Pride month 2019 is officially here, folks. While June is a time for LGBTQIA+ people to celebrate love, freedom, and identity, it's also a time for folks to reflect on how much work has been done for LGBTQIA+ rights — and a time to think about what work remains. Here are seven ways LGBTQIA+ rights have changed since Pride 2018.
In the United States, most Pride events are held in June to commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, also known as the Stonewall Riots in New York City on June 28, 1969. During the Stonewall Rebellion, LGBTQIA+ people demonstrated for five nights in protest of a discriminatory police raid that took place at the Stonewall Inn, one of NYC's few LGBTQIA+-friendly spaces at the time. Although Stonewall wasn't the first time a group of people organized to fight for LGBTQIA+ rights (the first gay rights organization in the United States can be traced back to 1924), the event catalyzed the formation of modern LGBTQIA+ rights movements and gave rise to LGBTQ-specific civil rights organizations.
Although LGBTQIA+ organizers and allies have been doing work around LGBTQIA+ liberation since before Stonewall, many protections and rights afforded to the LGBTQIA+ community are determined by state legislators, the judicial system, and President Trump's administration — which, as of 2016, has pushed anti-LGBTQIA+ policies. But that doesn't mean it's all doom and gloom. Here are 7 ways LGBTQIA+ rights have changed in the United States since Pride 2018 — for better or worse — showing where there has been progress, and where there's work left to do.
1. October 1, 2018: The State Department Announces A Policy Denying Same-Sex Partners Of United Nation Employees U.S. Visas
In October 2018, the Trump administration got rid of an exemption that allowed same-sex partners of United Nation employees to receive visas without being married, a problem for employees based at the New York location of the United Nations. Under the new policy, same-sex spouses of U.N. workers who didn't get married by December 2018 lost their legal status in the United States. Critics of the move noted that only 12% of United Nation member states allow same-sex marriage, and deportation could lead to threats, harassment, and violence for some. According to a senior administration official with the State Department, most incoming diplomats won't be affected by the change.
2. November 6, 2018: Massachusetts Voters Move To Protect Transgender People From Discrimination With Question 3
A referendum on Massachusetts' 2019 midterm elections ballot, Question 3, sought to remove a 2016 law banning discrimination based on gender identity in public accommodations such as hotels and restaurants. In a positive move for the LGBTQ+ community, Massachusetts voters declined to repeal the law, reinforcing the right for transgender and non-binary people to be safe from discrimination. Although the law ultimately didn't change, Question 3 spurred nationwide discussion about gender-based protections.
3. April 12, 2019: Trump Administration Bans Transgender Soldiers From The Military
On April 12, 2019, Trump's transgender military ban went into effect, banning anyone taking hormones or anyone who has undergone gender affirming surgery from enlisting in the military. The ban also required that any trans person already serving had to serve as their assigned-at-birth sex and discontinue the use of hormones. The Trump administration's ban came three years after the Obama administration said trans people could serve openly in the military and have access to important health care services.
4. April 17, 2019: Department Of Health And Human Services Announces Agency Will Stop Collecting Data On LGBTQIA+ Youth In Foster Programs
On April 17, 2019, HHS announced it would stop collecting data on LGBTQIA+ youth in foster programs, even though HHS research shows that one in five foster youth is LGBTQIA+, and LGBTQIA+ youth report twice the rate of poor treatment as non-LGBTQIA+ youth. Opponents of this change — such as the non-profit Family Equality Council, which works to advance equality for LGBTQIA+ families — noted that without data on LGBTQIA+ youth in foster care, it would be difficult to create policies and decisions that best serve their needs. Elite Daily reached out to the White House for comment on the proposal to stop collecting data on LGBTQIA+ youth in foster programs, but didn't hear back by time of publication.
5. May 22, 2019: Trump Administration Announces A New Rule Weakening Protections For Transgender Individuals Experiencing Homelessness
On May 22, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a proposed rule that would roll back protections for transgender individuals seeking housing in a shelter, per The Washington Post. The proposed rule would allow shelters to consider "an individual’s sex for the purposes of determining accommodation." It also states shelters can "consider a range of factors" to make determinations, including "the individual’s sex as reflected in official government documents, as well as the gender which a person identifies with," but "the proposed rule does not dictate a required basis for making determinations," per the text of the proposal. Elite Daily previously reached out to the Department of Housing and Urban Development for comment on the proposed rule, but did not hear back at the time of publication.
While HUD did not overturn the 2012 Equal Access Rule requiring admittance to single-sex shelters based on the gender an individual identifies with, Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, told The Washington Post this proposed rule "completely guts the Equal Access Rule." According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 30% of trans people have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives and trans people of color are significantly more likely to experience poverty than the average American.
6. May 24, 2019: The Trump Administration Announces A New Policy Stating Transgender Americans Won't Be Guaranteed Protections Under The ACA
HHS was at the center of another new regulation in May 2019 when it proposed a rule to remove protections for transgender people with regards to discrimination in health care. According to The Advocate, the proposed rule would affect over 1 million transgender adults and over 100,000 transgender teens in the United States, and would undermine the portion of the ACA that bans discrimination based on gender identity. Though the rule is subject to a 60-day public comment period and, as of publication, hasn't yet gone into effect, it could have serious consequences for trans people if it does, especially trans people living in states with no protections against gender identity discrimination. Elite Daily previously reached out to the Department of Health and Human Services for comment, but did not hear back.
7. May 24, 2019: The World Health Organization (WHO) Removes "Gender Identity Disorder" From Its Diagnosis Manual
Just ahead of Pride month, The World Health Organization announced that it would stop classifying transgender people as having "gender identity disorder" and remove "gender identity disorder" from its global manual of diagnoses, a positive move towards recognizing trans identities. According to TIME, activists are hoping WHO's 194 member countries will implement the change over the next three years, positively impacting care and perceptions for transgender people worldwide.
Since Pride 2018, many protections for LGBTQIA+ folks in the United States have shifted — some for the worse and others for the better. Hopefully, as acceptance of people in the LGBTQIA+ community grows in the United States, both state and federal protections will increase for LGBTQIA+ individuals and families for a brighter and more equitable future for all.