Visitors to the LGBTQ Community section of democrats.org are immediately met with an opening statement from the Democratic National Committee that reads, “Democrats applaud last year’s decision by the Supreme Court that recognized that LGBT people—like other Americans—have the right to marry the person they love. But there is still much work to be done. LGBT kids continue to be bullied at school, restaurants can refuse to serve transgender people, and same-sex couples are at risk of being evicted from their homes. That is unacceptable and must change.”
The statement is, presumably, in response to the landmark decision of Obergefell v. Hodges back in June 2015, and the remainder of the site page focuses on demonstrating the Party’s support for LGBTQ Americans. Emphasis is placed on the passing of hate crime legislation, banning of discrimination by federal contractors, and the elimination of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the ban on transgender military service. What’s more, the Party not only acknowledges that progress has been made, but that much more progress is to be had.
If the above is any indication, the DNC platform strongly supports LGBTQ rights. Moreover, the DNC took a strong stand on transgender equality in 2016, citing the necessity for comprehensive federal nondiscrimination laws that protect LGBTQ people in ALL facets of life (housing, employment, education, federally-funded programs, etc.) calling for programs that address LGBTQ youth homelessness, bullying, and differences in school discipline, and vocalizing the immediate necessity of ending the “crisis of violence against transgender Americans.”
The Other Side of the Coin
Such strong pro-rights views often contradict with those of opposing party members. A 2017 study by Pew Research Center found that the “American public is fundamentally divided over whether it’s possible for someone to be a gender different from the sex they were assigned at birth.” This divide transcends into the political realm, with eight-in-ten Republicans declaring that one’s gender is determined by the sex they were assigned at birth, whereas most Democrats and Democrat leaners (64%) affirm that a person’s gender is fluid and not contingent on their designation at birth.
Furthermore, when asked whether society has gone too far or not enough in accepting transgender people, 60% of Democrats were quick to say not enough, while only 12% of Republicans insinuated the same. Interesting to note, though, is the 40% of Democrats who don’t agree with their constituents. If the DNC’s platform really is pro-LGBTQ rights, why the rather large inter-party disparity?
The Hypocrisy Debate
Author Casey Quinlan tackles this question by exploring the fact that since seizing office, the Trump administration has, naturally, nixed a lot of what Obama put in place. However, while this was happening, “Democrats shrank from the opportunity to even mention transgender people by name. Various pundits and talk show hosts called the struggles of transgender people ‘boutique issues’ and ‘campus pet peeves.’” Mahoning County, Ohio Democratic Party chairman even went so far as to say “While Trump is talking about trade and jobs, they’re [other Democrats] still obsessing about which bathrooms people should be allowed to go into.” This complicates what, in many ways, seem like progressive, straightforward views in respect of LGBTQ rights.
Amidst critique, though, Quinlan also suggests that Democrats have made much progress over the last two decades when it comes to LGBTQ (and, specifically, transgender) rights. This year alone, the vast majority of House Democrats voted in favor of a resolution that opposed banning transgender individuals from serving in the Armed Forces. What’s more, the House of Representatives passed a bill on May, 17, 2019 that aims to fix various forms of LGBTQ discrimination. Known as the Equality Act, the bill serves primarily as an expansion of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and intends to collectively ban discrimination in housing, finances, employment, schools, and other public places on the basis of gender and sexual orientation.
Once again, this speaks well to the DNC platform and its views on transgender rights. So why, then, when the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) recently asked every Congress member to put a transgender flag outside their offices in support of Trans Visibility Week, did more than 180 Democratic senators and representatives decide not to engage in the show of solidarity and strength? Members like Bernie Sanders and Senator Kamala Harris were supportive in the act, but they’re also potential nominations for the 2020 election. Paragons, if you will. Where’s everyone else?
It appears most pertinent to stress what the DNC platform itself continues to reiterate: “…our work is far from complete.” Quinlan suggests that Democrats can make an effort to show a deeper understanding of the struggles facing transgender people while simultaneously maintaining their “core” principles. For example, poverty, immigration, and police brutality (key issues on the DNC platform) are relevant to any person, anywhere.
Troubling still is a comment by Xemiyulu Manibusan Tapepechul, a Salvadoran Nawat non-binary trans woman and vocal writer/advocate for transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people: “[Democrats] want me to say something like ‘let trans people be’ and that’s not enough.”
- The Democrats’ Neglect of Transgender Rights – The New Republic
- Conservatives Are Freaking Out Over An LGBT Bill That Passed The House – BuzzFeed News
- Democratic Party Platform Takes Strong Stands on Transgender Equality – National Center for Transgender Equality
- LGBTQ Community – Democrats.org
- Donald Trump on Gay Marriage
- Democratic Views on Gay Rights
- Republican Views on Gay Rights
- Democratic Views on Gay Marriage
- Republican Views on Civil Rights
- Democratic Views On Planned Parenthood
- Democratic Views on Abortion
- Democratic Views On Stem Cell Research
- Democratic Views On Affirmative Action
- Democratic View on Immigration