A White House with a menacing undercurrent

The following is a guest post by Jeremy Hooper, special projects consultant at GLAAD and lead researcher on GLAAD's Trump Accountability Project.

We all heard they were considering rescinding protections for transgender students long before they actually did. None of us were all that surprised considering the Attorney General and Education Secretary have a history of anti-LGBTQ statements, advocacy, and votes. Nevertheless, we all kind of lay in wait for several days as new reports of internal strife and vague statements from the press secretary muddied the situation further. By the time they actually got around to taking away the federal guidance that allowed transgender students to use the bathrooms matching their gender identities, it wasn’t the slightest bit surprising, even to those who found it shocking.

It brought to mind the rumors of the anti-LGBTQ executive order that were leaking from this very leaky White House just a few weeks ago. By all credible accounts, there was a draft executive order that would have repealed LGBTQ workplace protections put in place by President Obama. As with the transgender protections, there were reports of internal division and overall confusion. In that case, the order didn’t end up moving forward. But let’s be clear: It still could. This is especially true if some positive LGBTQ development gets under the skin of Trump, his extremely anti-LGBTQ Vice President Mike Pence, or any of the other like-minded advisers who make up this administration. One gets the sense that our ever-moving progress toward equality and acceptance is what threatens them the most.

And what about the so-called “religious freedom” executive order, which would give business owners a pass when it comes to discriminating against LGBTQ clients? Many of us have seen a draft of that order, and most political watchers expect it to come any day. It’s become a bit of a parlor game to determine at what anti-LGBTQ event the administration might choose to announce this, a move that this nation’s most ardent anti-LGBTQ activists consider to be one of their biggest prizes as they search for ways to circumvent our gains.

What we are learning with this new administration is that the actions don’t have to be loud and overt to keep us awake at night. Indeed, we are used to those who oppose our equality spending more time talking about the anti-LGBTQ policy proposals they are going to push Congress to enact. This administration is different though. Their brand is unpredictability, and they thrive on chaos and misinformation. The relative subtlety of the anti-LGBTQ engagements we have seen so far should do nothing to appease fears. In many ways, it exacerbates them.

For LGBTQ people and our allies, living with the Trump administration in the White House is like living in nice clothes but waiting for the bucket of paint that the pranksters rigged up overhead to drop on you at any minute. It's like being at a dinner party with a host who gushes over how nicely “you gays” style your weddings, then overhearing the host and his guests telling jokes at your expense when they think you’re out of earshot. 

Or, it’s like living as an American who deserves life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but knowing that the keepers of the clock might choose to turn it back on any given day. We cannot let them.