Despite having pledged during the campaign that he would protect LGBTQ rights, President Donald Trump's administration has, once again, taken steps to leave the transgender community uniquely vulnerable to discriminatory laws.
Under the Obama administration, the Justice Department had filed a lawsuit against North Carolina's controversial House Bill 2—the so-called "bathroom bill" which restricted public restroom access for transgender people and made other attacks on LGBTQ anti-discrimination laws. As the Associated Press reported on Tuesday, though, Trump's Justice Department decided to pull back from the suit in a motion filed last Friday. The move follows the president's February order rolling back protections for transgender rights in public schools.
While on the campaign trail, then-candidate Trump raised conservative eyebrows by affirming trans icon Caitlyn Jenner's right to use whichever bathroom she preferred while in his New York skyscraper (an offer she subsequently took up). Since taking office, however, the current administration has signaled—through executive actions, leaked proposals, and cabinet nominations—that it would not, in fact, be the champion for LGBTQ rights it once promised to be.
None of that is necessarily a surprise to some trans rights activists, who have been bracing themselves for a slew of anti-trans actions from the Trump White House. Nor does the Justice Department's decision to halt its fight against HB2 mean that the administration's adverse impact on the trans community is anywhere close to ending. Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, is perhaps most famous for ruling in favor of "religious liberty" in several contentious cases, suggesting that, were he confirmed to the bench, future LGBTQ rights and protections could be at risk as well. Already, the court has moved to sidestep a major trans rights case it had previously agreed to hear—a decision made, in part, as a reaction to the Trump administration's shifting orders regarding transgender protections.
Efforts to repeal HB2 by North Carolina's newly elected Democratic Governor Roy Cooper have largely floundered in recent months, and while the federal suit agains the bill may have been halted, the AP points out that individual suits against the law can still proceed as planned.