Despite some recent victories, the LGBT community knows that the battle for transgender rights is a long game. And this may be increasingly true in President Trump’s vision for America, which often uses traditional values to influence policy.
On Monday, Roy Moore, the GOP Senate candidate facing accusations of sexually assaulting teenage girls, told Alabama voters that he does not support rights for transgender Americans — which isn’t shocking to hear from a man who believes homosexuality should be illegal.
“I don’t believe Christians hate anybody. I don’t hate anybody. But I do hate sin,” the Alabama candidate said.
If a ruling in favor of transgender military recruits on Monday was one step forward for the community, Moore’s comments later that day were one step back.
The candidate, whom Trump essentially endorsed by slamming his opponent, previously voiced his support of the president’s position on transgender service members.
“As recently as 2013, the American Psychiatric Association considered transgenderism to be a mental disorder,” he wrote on his website. “And only in 2016 did the Obama administration attempt to impose that delusion upon our fighting forces.”
“To say that President Trump cannot prohibit transgenderism in the military is a clear example of judicial activism,” Moore added. “Even the United States Supreme Court has never declared transgenderism to be a right under the Constitution.”
Even the conservative Christian’s choice of words — “transgenderism” — points to an ongoing struggle the transgender community faces. According to GLAAD, a gay rights media-monitoring organization, transgenderism “is not a term commonly used by transgender people. This is a term used by anti-transgender activists to dehumanize transgender people and reduce who they are to ‘a condition.'”
But despite this week’s ruling on transgender recruits, the Justice Department suggested there are more hurdles ahead for the decision.
“We disagree with the court’s ruling and are currently evaluating the next steps,” Justice Department spokeswoman Lauren Ehrsam said in a statement.
Kristin Beck, a former member of the Navy’s elite SEAL Team Six and openly transgender woman, tweeted Tuesday that she will continue to fight for the rights of transgender people in the military.
American Civil Liberties Union attorney Joshua Block, who is representing transgender service members in their lawsuit against the administration, called the recent rulings a “victory for transgender service members across the country.”
“We’re pleased that the courts have stepped in to ensure that trans service members are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve,” Block said.
The rulings came on the heels of historic wins for the LGBT community in elections earlier this month.
Andrea Jenkins made history as the first openly transgender black woman elected to public office in the United States when she was elected to the Minneapolis City Council. In Virginia, voters ousted Republican Del. Robert G. Marshall, arguably the state’s most socially conservative lawmaker, for Danica Roem, a Democrat who will be one of the first openly transgender people in a state house.
But acceptance is far from mainstream for the LGBT community — and the agendas of Moore and Trump are a constant reminder of that. According to a poll published by NPR, 84 percent of transgender Americans believe discrimination exists against their community.
If any group knows that the fight for equality is a long one, it’s the transgender community, a group that has at times even felt discriminated against within the larger LGBT community. For whatever progress has been made over the last few months — from bathroom to boot camps — transgender Americans know there is still much work to do.