Three Trump “Diversity Wrongs” for President Biden to Quickly Correct

NOTE: I drafted this blog prior to the January 6th horrific happenings at our nation’s Capitol building.

The past four years has seen an unparalleled assault on diversity and inclusion under the Trump administration, and throughout this time I have written about some of the areas Trump attacked. In this blog, I highlight three areas I have blogged about that hopefully the new President Biden will quickly address after his inauguration.

1) Reversing Trump’s attacks on transgender Americans. Throughout his tenure, Trump has relentlessly attacked the rights of transgender people, effectively denying transpeople actually exist. Trump started the ball rolling in the Fall of 2019 tweeting that gender should be defined as a biological immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth, and directing the US Dept of Health and Human Services in an effort to establish a tight legal definition of gender under Title IX.

The US Dept of Health proposed that “the sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence,” which led to the US Health and Human Services publishing a final rule interpreting the Health Care Rights Law (§1557 of the Affordable Care Act) removing explicit protections against trans exclusions in health insurance on June 19, 2020.

Click and go to the bottom of this earlier blog to find links to multiple blogs and resources I have written about supporting transgender people in the workplace.

2) Rescinding Executive Order 13950 which tries to stop workplace training that deals with systemic racism in our country. Actually, the way the executive order was written, it is still possible to deliver meaningful diversity, equity and inclusion training that does address our systemic issues, but it may just need to be toned down a little. Unfortunately, the mean-spirited intentions behind the executive order frightened a lot of organizations to stop all forms of diversity training out of fear of losing government contracts.

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the National Urban League and the National Fair Housing Alliance have filed a lawsuit arguing that this executive order violates free speech rights and strangles workplace attempts to address systemic race and sex discrimination.

Link to the blog I quickly published when this executive order first hit the news, “Trump cancels federal racial sensitivity training – Five reasons why this is so wrong.”

Let’s restart the process of getting Harriet Tubman on our $20 bill

3) Restart the machinery to place Harriet Tubman on our $20 bill. With nothing but white men on all circulating US coins and paper money, everything was aligned to finally place a woman on one piece of major circulating currency. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of women suffrage in 2020, a poll was taken and African-American abolitionist Harriet Tubman won the vote to the first woman placed on our paper money. Everything was set and ready to go.

But then Trump and his Treasury Secretary Steven Mnunchin cancelled the effort, stating that this cannot happen before 2028 (!!) You can read the complete story in my blog “Black Lives Matter and our $20 Bill – An Awful American Travesty.” Now with President Biden about to take office and his appointment of our country’s first female Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, perhaps Ms. Tubman can much sooner grace our $20 bill.

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I know there are probably 1,000 awful horrible things Trump as done over the past four years like enabling the polluting of the earth, allowing hundreds of thousands to die from COVID, permitting Russia to hack into our national security systems, and more, but these are the three I have blogged about in the past.

Yet One More Way to Oppress Transgender Americans – an Editorial

Clockwise from top left: Rhodes Perry of Rhodes Perry Consulting, LLC; Elaine Martin of The Power of Diversity; Ames Simmons of Equality NC; and Dr. Christine McGinn of the Papillon Gender Wellness Center (one sentence bio with links at bottom of blog)

I have a young cousin (actually he is my first cousin’s son) who is about to enter the Social Work Masters Program at NC State University. He is a hard working young man who has worked almost full time while paying his way through college. And he is an enlightened straight white male who truly cares about diversity issues; in his latest graduate class he wrote a series of papers on the mass incarceration of African Americans in the US and some ways that can be addressed. In fact, I will be asking Brandon to write a few guest blogs for me on this issue.

Brandon often likes to send me some interesting thoughts and articles on diversity since he knows that I am a diversity consultant. Being quite aware that my fastest growing segment is assisting companies in assisting their transgender employees who choose to go through gender transition while remaining in the workplace, Brandon will often send me his thoughts along with some interesting articles. I remember when the newly elected President Trump took initial steps to end support for transgender students in school, Brandon texted me, “How horrible is this strip of protection by the Trump administration. So transgender students have no protection over the bathroom they can use now? And pretty much all transgender people are going to migrate to the liberal states where they feel protected like New York, Colorado and California?” (see a full blog I wrote on this discussion, More NC HB-2 Discussion – Two Business Perspectives)

In terms of transgender rights, there has been great progress, but also disappointing regression. Many more companies are now understanding the value of a skilled diverse workforce, including fully supporting transgender employees. Yet at the same time, the current federal administration is oppressing America’s transgender citizens by actions such as trying to remove them from the US Armed Services.

Brandon this past month sent me an article that has quite an interesting and provocative perspective on the recent Federal Government’s seizure of the “Backpage” website, asserting that it promoted human trafficking and prostitution. (Link to article). This particular article asserted that this action disproportionately affects transgender people who may need to resort to more dangerous street work to make a
living when there is no other alternative to arrange work online. See also a NY times article on the shut down of “Backpage.”

I ask, would these two Philadelphia transgender sex workers be in this profession if they had better economic opportunities? (Photo from Joseph Kaczmarek, Philadephia Daily News)

To be fair, most transgender people work in typical jobs, but we still have many in our society, including political leaders, who demonize transgender people and treat them as sub-human. This unfair and disturbing hate coming from national, state and local leaders harms this community and gives others in society license to discriminate against transgender people. (see my blog, “Five negative impacts of NC’s HB2 on transgender people.”)

Three important closing points:

1) Instead of continually doing things to shut down transgender people’s access to making a living, non-discrimination laws need to be passed to protect the working rights of all LGBT people.

2) Ostracizing any subset of Americas as “less than” stymies them from contributing fully to our economy and community and therefore harms all of us.

3) Instead of cutting down and hating transgender people, we are a society should fully accept them and provide educational and vocational assistance along with total respect so they can thrive along with all Americans.

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One line bios with links of the four transgender Americans in the photo collage at the top of this post:

After a robust and diverse career, Rhodes Perry formed Rhodes Perry Consulting and hosts his weekly Podcast, “The Out Entrepreneur.

Following careers as a bank executive and as owner of an aviation company, Elaine Martin has formed her consultancy, “Power of Diversity,” offering Transgender Consulting Training and Coaching for employers and their employees.

After more than a decade of in-house counsel practice at a healthcare consulting company based in Atlanta, Ames Simmons moved to North Carolina to become Equality NC’s Director of Transgender Policy.

Dr. Christine McGinn is one of the world’s leading gender transition surgeons, and the founder of the Papillon Gender Wellness Center.