ACLU Releases Legal, Legislative, and Advocacy Roadmap for Defending LGBTQ Freedom Under a Possible Second Trump Term

Analysis and roadmap continue ACLU’s 2024 election policy memo series exploring likely policies from a potential Trump or Biden second term.

June 13, 2024 10:21 am

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NEW YORK – Today, the American Civil Liberties Union launched a roadmap for defending LGBTQ people, our rights, and our health care under a possible second administration of former President Donald Trump.

Following Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, his administration led a sustained, years-long effort to erase protections for LGBTQ people across the entire federal government, including efforts to “define ‘transgender’ out of existence.” While the Biden administration reversed many of those attacks, Trump himself has promised to go even further if re-elected to the White House. Trump on LGBTQ Rights details expected threats and how the ACLU and its nationwide affiliate network will respond in the courts, Congress, statehouses, and communities across the country.

“For four years, President Trump and his administration left no stone unturned in their effort to roll back federal non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people, including with respect to transgender people’s access to health care, safety for LGBTQ students in our schools, and the right of LGBTQ people to live and work as who we are,” said James Esseks, Director of the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project. “We fully expect a second Trump administration to go further, weaponizing federal law to override state-level protections and mandate discrimination by schools and health care providers nationwide. Regardless of the election’s outcome, we stand ready to fight to uphold the fundamental freedom we are guaranteed by the Constitution to live our lives as we choose.”

“In many states across the country, we have seen the disastrous consequences of a hateful campaign targeting LGBTQ people and their families with discriminatory laws, forcing many from their home states and denying many more the freedom to get the healthcare they need, to live their lives openly, and even to decide what name to go by, “said Mike Zamore, National Director for Policy & Government Affairs. “Should a second Trump administration take office and attempt to implement these kinds of policies nationwide, it could leave transgender people and their families nowhere to hide from extremist politics. We are determined to use every tool at our disposal to oppose any attempt to deny LGBTQ people the freedom to live and love freely and openly.”

Based on his own campaign promises -- and the detailed policy proposals of Project 2025 -- advocates can expect a future Trump administration to deploy three tactics against LGBTQ rights:

  • Rolling back protections for LGBTQ people including regulations prohibiting discrimination in healthcare, ensuring the safety of LGBTQ students in school, and establishing full protections from workplace discrimination
  • Mandating discrimination against transgender people by the federal government by excluding gender-affirming medical care from federal healthcare programs, withholding federal funding from hospitals that provide gender-affirming care for adolescents, and reinstating the ban on transgender people serving in the military
  • Weaponizing federal law to require states and private actors to discriminate against transgender people by threatening to sue schools that protect the rights of trans students for allegedly violating federal civil rights law, or telling hospitals that they would lose their Medicaid funding if they provide gender-affirming medical care to trans adolescents. Far-right advocates have advised a second Trump administration even to criminalize gender nonconformity.

The ACLU’s playbook issued today outlines multiple routes for defending LGBTQ rights against these attacks:

  • Litigation challenging these policies in federal court. Legal challenges brought by the ACLU previously blocked anti-transgender initiatives in the first Trump administration and the ACLU now has over two dozen active lawsuits in state and federal court defending LGBTQ rights as of June 2024
  • Pushing Congress to proactively restrain federal policies attacking LGBTQ rights via its oversight, investigative, and funding authorities
  • Working with states and municipalities to advance LGBTQ rights through nondiscrimination laws and expanding access to gender-affirming health care
  • Organizing across movements to build political power against these attacks and solidarity between reproductive rights, immigration rights, and other movements alongside LGBTQ rights

The Trump on LGBTQ Rights memo is the second of seven the ACLU is releasing on anticipated policies from a second Trump administration as part of its 2024 election policy memo series. Topics include immigration, LGBTQ rights, abortion, the criminal legal system, DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion), voting rights, and surveillance, protest, and free speech. Following its focus on policies of a potential second Trump administration, the ACLU will focus on those of a potential second Biden administration. A new memo will be released each week from June through August. All released memos will be available here.

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