Two Weeks Before Midterms, Transgender People Feel Like ‘Pawns’

In office, Mr. Trump has rolled back L.G.B.T. protections in a wide range of areas. His administration issued “religious liberty” guidelines to federal agencies and contractors; argued in a 2016 federal lawsuit that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect gay people; and appointed judges, including the Supreme Court justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh, who advocacy groups say have poor L.G.B.T. rights records.

Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said her organization had not seen the text of the proposal and did not know how its existence had come to light, but said she believed it was “about playing to the base and vilifying people.” But she also suspected it had more to do with the last two years of anti-L.G.B.T. moves than it did with the looming midterms.

“What we think this is is a post hoc justification for their refusal all along to be enforcing civil rights laws for transgender people,” she said. “They’re trying to unify the logic across the various government departments.”

Even without the proposed definition of gender, many transgender people said they had felt the impact of the Trump administration’s stance on L.G.B.T. issues in their daily lives. They said things had gotten harder.

In New York City, Dubbs Weinblatt, an educational trainer at a Jewish organization, reported being harassed on the street and subjected to homophobic slurs more frequently. In Madison, Wis., Dany Seiler said vandals had attacked a local gay bar and the office of an L.G.B.T magazine, smashing windows and spray painting slurs on the walls.

Some also said the proposal made them even more determined to vote in the midterms.

“Sometimes it feels really futile to do it, but we don’t have a better system right now so I think everyone should vote,” said T.J. Briggs, an actor and unemployed law graduate in Stuarts Draft, Va. “Whether they allow me to have any political power, I still exist, my friends still exist, my husband still exists.”

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