White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany deflected a question about Donald Trump’s impromptu ban on transgender service members, quickly pivoting to a false claim that the president has a pro-LGBTQ+ record.
During Monday’s daily press briefing, Washington Blade reporter Chris Johnson mentioned the soon-to-arrive three-year anniversary of Trump’s ban on trans people in the military, a decision he announced via tweet. Johnson asked if Trump is willing to reconsider the policy and mentioned that over 100 lawmakers urged the president to end the ban. Many have also questioned the legality of Trump’s prohibition following the Supreme Court’s recent ruling banning anti-LGBTQ+ workplace discrimination.
“I haven’t talked to him about that specific policy, but this president is proud that in 2019 we launched a global initiative to end the criminalization of homosexuality throughout the world. He has a great record when it comes to the LGBT community. The Trump administration eased a ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men and he launched a plan to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.”
Johnson then tried to get a clear answer on the trans ban, but McEnany called on another reporter.
As is apparent to most political observers, Trump does not have a positive record when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community.
The Department of Health and Human Services reversed a provision in the Affordable Care Act that prohibited anti-LGBTQ discrimination in health care settings. Six regulations prohibiting anti-LGBTQ discrimination in health insurance and elder care were also repealed in 2019. In November, HHS released another proposed rule that would remove regulatory provisions that explicitly prohibit organizations that receive HHS grant funding from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, sex, and religion. HHS awards more than $500 billion in grant funding annually, and its grantees include organizations that provide a wide array of health and social services, including health care at federally funded community health centers, HIV and STI testing and prevention, refugee resettlement, elder care programs, child care and after-school programs, community meal programs, and adoption and foster care services.
Meanwhile, the Department of Housing and Urban Development wants to let homeless shelters discriminate against transgender people. Under changes to the Equal Access Rule, HUD seeks to allow single-sex or sex-segregated shelters that receive federal funding “to voluntarily establish a policy that will govern admissions determinations for situations when an individual’s gender identity does not match their biological sex,” according to a HUD press release issued recently.
Also, during President Trump’s first year in office, foreign embassies were permitted to continue the practice of flying rainbow flags during Pride month. Last year, that guidance was reversed after the U.S. Embassy in Brazil requested to fly the rainbow pride flag in June, citing an increasingly hostile anti-LGBTQ+ environment in Brazil after the election last year of President Jair Bolsonaro. The State Department not only refused the request, but alerted its entire diplomatic corps that the rainbow flag could not be displayed on any public-facing flagpole at embassies across the globe.
Trump’s Justice Department has also supported anti-LGBTQ legal efforts, even arguing for those seeking the right to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people in the workplace.
The president has also worked to deny nearly all asylum claims in the U.S., putting the lives of many LGBTQ+ Central American migrants in jeopardy; some have been sent back to face dangers in their native countries, while others have died in custody.
McEnany herself has a history of hostile statements toward transgender people.