Opinion, Politics

FLIP-FLOPS AREN’T JUST FOR YOUR FEET—Trump’s Ever-Changing Positions on DACA and What That Means

Header Source: Wikimedia Commons


In a move that probably caused the simultaneous bursting of a thousand-thousand Republican aneurysms, President Donald Trump took to Twitter more than a week after his administration announced the end of DACA, the Obama-era program that gave temporary two-year work visas to immigrants who came to the country illegally as minors.

“Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!…..” said Trump in two Tweets. “…They have been in our country for many years through no fault of their own – brought in by parents at young age. Plus BIG border security.”

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Politics

WHAT IS DACA?

On Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced President Trump had formally decided to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The move has a six-month delay, to allow Congress to draft a legislative fix and allow those with permits expiring within the next six months to renew (though no new permits will be issued), and would be implemented over the next two years as those deferrals peter out. It would affect almost 800,000 people.

But what is DACA?

The program was implemented in 2012 under President Obama. It allowed certain illegal immigrants who came to the country as minors to apply for a work visa and a two-year period of deferred action from deportation. The idea was to shift immigration enforcement away from low-priority illegal immigrants with good standing. Most of these illegal immigrants who came here as minors are called DREAMers, from the 2001 DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors). The DREAM Act sought to qualify alien minors for conditional residency that could lead to permanent residency. The DREAM Act was scrapped and stalled multiple times, leading to President Obama introducing DACA.


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music, Politics, pop culture, Things Happening RN

THINGS HAPPENING RN: OH LORDE, KELLYANNE CONWAY, AND DISNEY’S GOING GAY (apparently)

I was writing a piece about body image that wasn’t flowing, and I have to get this piece up, so I figured I would just round up a few pieces of news and talk about them. So leave me alone, k?

THINGS HAPPENING RN:

1). LeFou Is Revealed To Be Gay in Live-Action Beauty and the Beast:

I think what bugs me so much about this is not that LeFou—Gaston’s little sidekick—is gay but that everyone is lauding this as a watershed moment. Yes, this will be Disney’s first gay character. However, they’re describing him as “openly gay” while in the same breath saying that, “He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelings.”

JUST REALIZING your feelings is not being “openly gay.” And going beyond the insulting semantics, the fact that the first LGBTQ character in a Disney movie will be the goofy sidekick of a misogynistic and abusive villain, and that on top of that, LeFou admires and lusts unfulfilled after the heterosexual Gaston, means that Disney is expecting applause for baking a cake when they’ve given the queer community a crumb.

In the case of Love It or List It, I’m gonna List it. Even Frozen did it better, y’all.

2). Jeff Sessions Recuses Himself from Russia Investigations:

Yesterday it was revealed that Sessions had had contact with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign. While he was not directly associated with the campaign yet, he was supportive of Donald Trump and, under oath, claimed to have no knowledge of contact between Russia and Trump surrogates—not true. And a big problem since Sessions, as Attorney General, is the one looking into seeing if there was any illegal activity re these contacts. Sessions faced pressure to either resign or recuse himself from the investigation. And of course, the Trump White House had a million different responses to it. This morning, Press Secretary Sean Spicer that Sessions had no reason to recuse himself. So today, Sessions held a press conference to announce that he would recuse himself from the Russia investigations.

On a side note, he looks like Yoda, no?

3). Lorde released, “Green Light,” the first single off her sophomore album, Melodrama:

YES. Instead of waiting forty days after Ash Wednesday, hunny, our Lorde has chosen to resurrect the day after!!!! The single, described by Lorde, will “make you dance.” It’s fast, loud, weird and beautiful—totally different than the slow-bops Lorde graced us with on her debut album, Pure Heroine. I’m feeling like this might be a 21-25 album set, where the second one is all about how much Lorde has grown in her absence. Very excited—but definitely thought that “Green Light” was a reference to The Great Gatsby, but maybe that’s on me.

 

4). Kellyanne Conway won’t face punishment for ethics breach when she advertised Ivanka’s clothing line:

The real crime is probably that clothing line, but that’s not important right now. Weeks ago, after Nordstroms announced it would drop Ivanka’s clothing line, Trump was upset and on-air, Conway said that she was giving the line a “free commercial” and encouraged everyone to go out and buy it. that’s, like, a no-no. Federal employees are forbidden from using their public office for commercial endorsement. Conway was noticeably absent from the TV for a few weeks. White House deputy counsel Stefan Passantino wrote to the Office of Government Ethics that Conway had acted without “nefarious motive” and did the endorsement inadvertently. Like, k? But hon, that’s still a breach of ethics.

*****

Okay babes, that’s all I could rustle up. Maybe eventually I’ll workshop that body article, or maybe I’ll let it languish in the dust of my document folder. Who knows?

Please check out Lorde’s new single—it’s vital—and also spread the word about my blog so that someone rich/powerful finds it and helps me out. THANKSZ.

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LGBTQ, Politics

MEAN

Trans Lifeline

On Wednesday night, the Trump administration withdrew Obama-era advisement that schools that received federal funding allow transgender students to use the bathrooms that corresponds with their gender identity.

The measure was a joint effort by the Departments of Justice and Education, the heads of which are Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary Betsy DeVos, respectively. According to insider Republicans, DeVos was against rescinding Obama’s protections but eventually bowed to the combined pressure of President Trump and Attorney General Sessions.

President Obama made his guidance based on his interpretation of Title IX, which bans discrimination in schools on the basis of sex. In Trump’s letter to federally-funded public schools, there was no new guidance on how to handle the issue but simply stated that there was not “extensive legal analysis” on Obama’s interpretation of Title IX and retracted the advisement.

In a statement, the White House said that the issue should be left at the state-level for decisions. The letter comes weeks before the case of Gavin Grimm, a transgender student from Virginia who was denied access to the boys’ bathroom in his high school and had to use the bathroom in a converted janitor’s closet, would reach the Supreme Court.

As a senator, Jeff Sessions had a record of voting against the expansion of LGBTQ rights. In 2000 and 2002, Sessions voted against including sexual orientation in the definition of hate crimes. In 2006, he voted yes on a constitutional ban of same-sex marriage. DeVos, according to several sources, was privately pro-LGBTQ rights but has not publicly voiced support to avoid going against her family, who have contributed financially to several anti-gay groups.

I had actually written an article about the possibility of Trump rescinding federal protection of transgender students a few hours before the official word came. I looked at the voting records of Sessions and Pence in their political careers. I looked at the promises Trump made during the campaign, saying that he was the LGBTQ community’s best option.

I looked at the effects bathroom bans have on transgender students. According to data, LGBTQ youths are four times more likely than their heterosexual peers to attempt suicide. 40 percent of transgender adults have attempted suicide, and 92 percent have attempted it before the age of 25. According to a survey, when transgender youths are denied access to places like bathrooms and housing, suicide attempts spike. Out of over 1000 youths surveyed for a particular study, a third had been denied access to bathrooms—60.5 percent of those denied access have attempted suicide.

Bathroom bills are purportedly for the safety of cisgender (that is, non-transgender) students. There are no reported instances of any transgender person assaulting a cisgender person in the bathroom. However, over 70 percent of transgender people have experienced being barred from using a bathroom, verbally assaulted or physically assaulted. Transgender students who are denied access to bathrooms that correspond to their gender identities have reported health issues such as kidney infection, dehydration and urinary tract infections. Those health issues can lead to missed classes and days of school.

Villainizing queer people is nothing new. Gay men were characterized as pedophiles, and homosexuality was only declassified as a mental illness from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1973. Prior to 2003, same-sex sexual activity illegal in 14 U.S. states, Puerto Rico and the military.

Rescinding the protection of transgender students goes beyond name-calling or petty villainizing. It condemns them to health problems, physical and verbal assault and suicide. It condemns them to death.

There aren’t many ways I’m able to process this. I can use facts and statistics to paint a picture of why this is wrong. I can look into the voting records of Sessions and Pence and the ilk. I can point to those things and say, “Do you see? Can’t you see?” But this reaches a place deeper down in me, someplace raw and unhealed.

There are no words that encompass the illness roiling around inside me. The abject cruelty. The first time I was called “faggot.” The red heat in my cheeks as I was harassed in my high school locker room. The shoves into the lockers. The cruel, fondling hands. There are no words to describe being treated as subhuman. Because that’s what it comes down to: they don’t see queer people as human. You can’t rationalize it as any other way.

It’s mean. I guess that’s the simplest way I can break it down. The most juvenile, childish word, but the one that makes the most sense. It’s mean. It’s mean because it makes no sense; it comes from no logic, no wisdom, no statistics, no facts. Because if you look at any of those, you would realize that transgender students are amongst the most vulnerable minorities in America. At every turn, they are scorned, harassed and maligned. They are treated as subhuman. We should be offering our protection to them, not protecting against them.

It’s mean because Jeff Sessions doesn’t actually care about protecting cisgender students. He knows that there is no threat that a transgender teen poses when they’re just trying to use the bathroom. But Jeff Sessions wants to curtail the expansion of LGBTQ rights. That’s the logic I can find—in his voting records. In the way he views us. It’s mean because Trump, no matter what he said on the campaign trail, is as bad as Sessions in his ambivalence. And ambivalence is as deadly as hate because it’s still the same victim mangled in the maws of government. It’s still that teen. That teen is who asking nothing more than the barest, most threadbare human dignity.

“These bills are not about bathrooms. They’re about whether trans people have the right to exist in public space.”

-Laverne Cox on her recent CBS This Morning appearance.

Also published on The Buzz website 

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LGBTQ, Politics

ACCORDING TO SOURCES, TRUMP TO RESCIND FEDERAL GUIDANCE ON TRANSGENDER STUDENTS USING BATHROOMS OF THEIR GENDER IDENTITIES

According to reporting done by the New York Times, the Trump administration is drawing up paperwork to rescind former President Obama’s order that transgender students can use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was in opposition to Attorney General Jeff Sessions over the issue of leaving the choice up to the states. However, the Department of Education ruled in 2014 that protecting transgender students falls under Title IX, a federal law that prevents discrimination on the basis of sex.

DeVos, despite her family’s prominent donations to anti-gay organizations, apparently opposed the order. However, President Donald Trump sided with Sessions, who has a history of opposing the expansion of LGBTQ rights, and wanted DeVos to drop her objections.

Apparently there is pressure to move the paperwork along so as to avoid confusion with upcoming cases. The issue comes right before the case of Gavin Grimm, a Virginia boy who is transgender, will be brought to the Supreme Court. Grimm sued his school county when they refused to let him use the boys’ restroom and instead offered him a separate one converted from a janitor’s closet. The Obama White House rejected accommodation like that as unconstitutional and discriminatory.

According to insider Republicans, DeVos was uncomfortable with the idea of revoking protections for transgender students. This is in direct opposition to what Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in a White House news conference that DeVos was “100 percent” on board. And apparently privately, according to several sources, DeVos is quietly pro-gay-rights.

This directive needs the joint support of the Education and Justice Department, meaning that Sessions needed DeVos on board to move forward.

According to the website, OnTheIssues.org, Sessions has a history of voting against LGBTQ rights expansion. In 2006, he voted yes on a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, limiting the definition for marriage to between one man and one woman. In 2000 and 2002, he voted against adding sexual orientation to the definition of hate crimes. He was rated 20% by the ACLU, indicating an anti-civil rights voting record, and 0% by the HRC, indicating an anti-gay-rights stance.

On the campaign, Trump was tentatively pro-LGBTQ rights. He said that the issue of same-sex marriage was settled when it was legalized and that he would not go back on that. He famously invited Caitlyn Jenner, transgender former Olympic athlete, to Trump Tower and that she could use whichever bathroom she wanted. In April of 2016, Trump spoke against North Carolina’s bathroom ban, saying that people should use “the bathroom they feel is appropriate.” However, when the Obama administration issued guidance that all transgender students should use the bathrooms corresponding to their gender identities, Trump said that it should be left up to the states.

Vice President Pence, when he was the governor of Indiana, signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which protected business owners who discriminated against LGBTQ people on the basis of religion. Pence was also critical of Obama’s repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” saying without it, the military would be a “backdrop for social experimentation.”

Even if Trump himself doesn’t personally hold any opposition to the expansion of LGBTQ rights, by dropping down the impetus to the states to decide what protections to offer transgender students is deeply troubling. These are children who are just trying to go to school. When transgender students are barred from using the bathrooms that correspond to their gender identities, suicide rates increase and health issues arise—dehydration, kidney infections and urinary tract infections. The health problems alone can lead to missed days of school and increased levels of stress.

That Trump himself doesn’t bear any ill will against the queer community does not translate to protection of LGBTQ rights. He totes himself as “the least anti-Semitic person you’ll ever meet” and “the least racist person you’ll ever meet” but if you’re not taking active steps towards the protections of these marginalized groups, you are in effect leaving them to be crushed under administrative oppression and discrimination.

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