Photo courtesy of American Civil Liberities Union.
CHAMPS Charter High School of the Arts

LGBT Rights in 2017

My heart sank when I heard wind that the category for LGBT rights was removed from the White House website following President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January.

Before the removal, dislike and apathy was implicit in Trump’s speeches and actions, but now his feelings towards the LGBT community, which he vowed to protect, were made clear. A snowflake has become a snowball, rolling down a hill and increasing in size into what the New Yorker describes as a “year of injuries” for LGBT Americans.

2017 has been divergent from any other year in terms of LGBT rights, partially due to Trump’s inauguration. A very different president has produced a very different year.

“I knew the moment that Trump was inaugurated that it was going to halt a lot of progress. Literally deleting our issues from the White House website was just confirmation of that,” Ezra Dodson, 17, said.

Despite the repeated blows to the LGBT community, we are still proving our strength against adversity.

“When he says [homophobic and transphobic] things on TV and people start cheering, that’s when it becomes scary because it shows how many people share his beliefs,” Ethan Telles, 16, said.

There a consensus amongst LGBT teenagers that 2017 marks a pause in progression towards a discrimination-free society. Steps were made for the community with Obama’s presidency and gay marriage being legalized in 2015. However, with Trump there have been steps backwards, including his attempt to ban transgender people from the military.

“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the US Military,” Trump tweeted last July.

Following this announcement, many people took to Twitter to express their revulsion towards the administration and dismay.

“If someone wants to risk their life serving this country, what kind of response is it to repay that bravery with, ‘You’re too expensive,’” YouTuber Mark Fischbach, better known as Markiplier, tweeted.

Trump’s rhetoric has incited worry for many LGBT youth.

“Growing up and coming out before it was legal for me to marry any potential partner made me feel like less of a person,” Dodson said. “It’s hard to feel like a whole person when I am still afraid to go places.”

Fear is a common thread for young LGBT kids. From rapid heart beats when walking in the street to trepidation when entering a church, we still do not feel safe in the world. People who are considered visibly LGBT carry fear with them wherever they go.

“For the first time, I feel like things might not progress,” said Rosalinda Sebastiano, 17. “It’s weird to think that I might not see any change. The past few years have been good for us. That might come to an end.”

Regardless of the negative impact of the representation of LGBT Americans in the federal level of government, positive change is being made on a smaller level.

“I’ve seen a lot of homophobes opening their minds after seeing how a lot of [LGBT] people are treated,” Telles said. “There is that tiny bit of hope still.”

In November, Robert G. Marshall, previous senator and author of the anti-trans bathroom bill, lost the Virginia House of Delegates seat to Danica Roem, an openly transgender woman. This was a huge victory for the community.

Dec. 11 the transgender military ban was overturned.

California has become the first state to issue LGBT-inclusive textbooks to children in grade school.

District of Columbia residents can choose a gender neutral option for their driver’s license.

We are fighting to make our voice heard. Throughout history, LGBT Americans have fought to be considered equal rather than sinful. Hardship works to bring a community together and stronger than ever.

“I don’t see any major changes in legislation against the LGBT community happening anytime soon,” Sebastiano said.

The snowball is slowly growing in terms of harm to LGBT community, but people all around the country are pushing it back, preventing it from becoming an avalanche. In the face of adversity, we never give up and we make our voices heard.

“From [Trump’s] inauguration forward, it’s been so much harder to be an LGBT person in this country and feel accepted. We shouldn’t feel like a burden or an expense, rather we should feel like anyone else does: a whole person,” Dodson said.