President Donald Trump’s new acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has a history of anti-LGBT legislation and statements, including saying that encouraging countries to drop homophobic policies is “religious persecution.”

Mulvaney, who will become Trump’s third chief of staff in less than two years when he replaces General John Kelly in January, has also co-sponsored bills to ban same-sex marriage and allow anti-LGBT discrimination on the basis of religion.

In July, at the State Department’s Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, he lashed out at President Barack Obama’s government because “our US taxpayer dollars [were] used to discourage Christian values in other democratic countries.”

“It was stunning to me that my government under the previous administration would go to folks in sub-Saharan Africa and say… ‘We know you have a law against gay marriage, but if you enforce that law, we’re not going to give you any money,'” continued the 51-year-old.

“That’s a different type of religious persecution… That is a different type of religious persecution that I never expected to see.”

Mick Mulvaney oversaw cuts in HIV funding

As director of the Office of Management and Budget, a role he’s held since February 2017, Mulvaney released a budget for the 2019 fiscal year which included cuts to domestic HIV/AIDS programmes and slashed $1 billion from global HIV programmes.

Human Rights Campaign (HRC)’s government affairs director David Stacy said at the time that the budget showed “a callous disregard for critical programmes that impact LGBTQ Americans” and created “a direct threat to the safety and well-being of LGBTQ people here and around the world.”

During his time in state government, he co-sponsored a law which banned same-sex marriage in South Carolina.

He also told lawmakers that the state government should stop “advertising South Carolina to gay tourists in Europe” before winning election to the House of Representatives in 2010.

Mick Mulvaney opposed same-sex marriage and trans rights in Congress

The former South Carolina lawmaker scored zero on HRC’s Congressional Scorecard for all three of his terms in the House, unwaveringly opposing LGBT+ rights.

It was while he was a congressman that he urged President Obama to enforce the Defence of Marriage Act, a federal law which defined marriage as being between a man and a woman, and which was eventually ruled unconstitutional.

Mulvaney also signed a letter questioning the Obama administration’s transgender guidance which allowed students to use their chosen facilities.

The letter criticised the guidance, which was revoked by the Trump administration just weeks into the president’s term, for forcing schools to “disregard the privacy, ‘discomfort,’ and emotional strain imposed on other students during use of bathroom, showering, and changing facilities.”

During a debate with Democrat Fran Person in 2016, Mulvaney said that he was supporting Trump in the upcoming presidential election despite thinking he was “a terrible human being,” The Daily Beast has reported.

When Gabrielle Claiborne came out as a transgender woman in 2010, she worried about what it would mean for her career. She had spent the past thirty years in the construction industry, owning and operating her own successful businesses, but she knew that discrimination against the transgender community would make it difficult for her to continue finding work.

She also knew that she wanted to make a difference in her community, that she wanted to use her business experience and knowledge to make life easier for other transgender people navigating their own careers. She didn’t know what that would look like until she met her eventual business partner, Reverend Linda Herzer, a trans advocate working to educate others about trans and non-binary people. The two women decided to merge their skills and passions to cofound Transformation Journeys Worldwide, an inclusion training and consulting firm that focuses on supporting organizations in creating fully inclusive cultures for trans and non-binary people.

Transformation Journeys Worldwide (TJWW), based in Atlanta, Georgia, serves corporations, nonprofits, spiritual communities, healthcare providers, as well as educational institutions. It has worked with clients like UPS, Home Depot, the Atlanta Hawks, and Kaiser Permanente.

“Our trainings and consultations look different for different clients,” Claiborne explains. “A lot of times our clients are at different places around understanding of trans and non-binary people, so we meet them where they are and create custom consultations and training to help them advance and move forward.”

In addition to teaching the importance of inclusion from a human rights perspective, Claiborne emphasizes to clients that an inclusive work culture is the best possible way to attract and retain top talent. She cites a 2017 Harris Poll that found 12% of Millennials identify as transgender or gender non-conforming, which is double the number of Generation Xers that identify as such.

Millennials are making up more and more of the workplace as time goes on, so it is in a company’s best interest to foster a culture of inclusion, she explains. The biggest challenges for people, Claiborne finds, is understanding what it means to identify as non-binary.

“To an extent culture is now just beginning to wrap their arms around trans people, but non-binary people challenge our cultural assumptions about gender even moreso than trans people do,” she says. “I identify as a woman so essentially I still identify with the binary. It’s non-binary individuals who are really challenging our assumptions on gender expression.”

One big piece of TJWW trainings is helping people understand how to interact respectfully with their transgender and non-binary clients and coworkers. TJWW offers strategies for respectfully asking someone which pronouns they use, and it educates people about what to expect when a coworker comes out or is still in the in the process of evolving their gender expression.

“We have found people want to do the right thing most of the time,” Claiborne says. “They just don’t know how to go about it. The companies we work with are calling us in because they recognize a gap and want to grow.”

Still, Claiborne says it can be challenging to help businesses understand why it is so important for them to undergo trainings like those offered by TJWW. “People are at different places, and meeting them where they are is critical because organizations are not wanting to invest their time, resources, and money if they don’t see it as beneficial to them. It has to be relevant to them. We have to create that relevancy and help them see the relevancy for themselves.”

Claiborne's significant entrepreneurial experience has guided her through the ups and downs of cofounding TJWW. “I knew how to start a business,” she says. “I knew how to collaborate. I knew how to market myself. I knew how to create.” Nevertheless, she says she has learned to be more collaborative since starting TJWW. It has become important to Claiborne to surround herself with other people who bring talent and experience. “So it’s not just me bringing my solutions to the table,” she says.

Through all of her entrepreneurial experiences, Claiborne has learned that it is how you handle the difficult times that will determine the success of your business. “It’s how you run your business in the between times, when it’s hard, when you don’t have money coming in that month.”

She also feels strongly about giving back to other organizations that need support. She is a board member for Atlanta Pride, a member of the city’s LGBTQ mayoral advisory board, a member of the Transgender Inclusion Task Force for the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and she is also a vocalist for her spiritual community. “The sponge cannot be full all the time,” she says. “You have to wring it out occasionally, and you have to look at your business as that sponge.”

Claiborne is proud of all she has been able to do and is especially proud that TJWW is seeing positive results for the organizations it works with. “When our clients circle back around with us and share how much they learned and actual steps they’re taking to implement the changes they learned in our trainings, it does our heart good. I wanted to make a difference in the world, and now I feel like I am making a difference in the way it’s meant for me to make.”

The Trump administration’s animosity toward LGBTI people at home and abroad and toward women at home can be easy to shrug off as the “new normal” in the haze of crisis fatigue, but it would be a mistake to miss how dogged or how interrelated these attacks are. This administration is trying to create a world in which trans people don’t exist, women don’t have control over their bodies, and religious beliefs can overrule basic human rights.

These attacks are frequent and appalling, like when the president repeatedly tried to institute a trans military ban or when the administration callously rolled back protections for trans students. Less obvious but just as critical have been the attacks on LGBTI people as the administration tries to change definitions of “gender” in U.S. policy and practice, including the attempt by Health and Human Services to erase gender and define sex as immutable and set at birth, intentionally erasing transgender, intersex, and nonbinary people out of existence — and thus as not entitled to basic rights and protections.

Many of these attacks have been cloaked under the guise of championing women’s rights. Make no mistake: this administration is no friend of women or girls. And yet it has repeatedly tried to use the language of women’s rights as a Trojan horse for blatantly transphobic, anti-women, anti-rights policies — like when the U.S. Agency for International Development sought to use a routine congressional notification to change “gender equality” to “women’s equality.” Or when the U.S. delegation to the United Nations attempted to strip gender from U.N. policy statements, particularly regarding “gender-based violence.” A spokeswoman specifically defended this as part of “the administration’s efforts to empower women and girls.”

These attacks go beyond mere words: reframing gender-based violence, which includes LGBTI people, to "violence against women and girls" erases gay or bi men, transgender and intersex people. It also ignores the more systemic realities of gender power imbalance that must be addressed for all people to live free from violence.

These attempts to erase trans people and redefine gender are deeply related to the administration’s attacks on sexual and reproductive rights, moves that have disproportionate impact on women and LGBTI people. Take, for example, the stripping of reproductive rights from the Human Rights Report — a reversal of U.S. practice and a move that flatly denies sexual and reproductive rights as human rights and woefully misunderstands their centrality to LGBTI people and women, who need comprehensive services that include reproductive care as well as basic health care. Or the administration’s moves to ban diplomats from using well-defined terms like “sexual and reproductive health” and "comprehensive sexuality education" — replacing it instead with “reproduction and the related health services.” Additionally, internal leaked memos have suggested changing sexual and reproductive health language to “women’s health care.” These words matter, and the Trump administration knows it.

These attacks are part of a coordinated approach by the administration to strip LGBTI people and women of their rights. They are increasingly done under cloak of night through bureaucratic measures, only coming to light if leaked. They are rooted in anti-feminist, anti-human rights ideology, and they are being coordinated by a handful of people specifically placed by the Trump administration, under the leadership of the vice president’s office. These are people who have opaque if even existent accountability within the bureaus they work in, seemingly working under the directive of the office of the vice president instead. They’re people like Mari Stull, now at the State Department, currently under investigation for anti-LGBTI slurs and reprisals — and people like anti-trans, anti-reproductive rights activist Bethany Kozma, now at USAID.

This administration is enacting changes in which the government dictates what sex is, who it is for and who gets to have it. They are seeking to build a country and a world in which women and men are defined in opposition to each other and serve very distinct roles; where women don’t have control over their bodies; and where trans, genderqueer, intersex, and gender-nonconforming people simply don’t exist. We must see these attacks for what they are: the hellbent stripping away of people’s rights through whatever means possible at the expense of global health and all our human rights.

The Corvallis School Board voted unanimously on Thursday to adopt a policy detailing the rights of transgender and gender nonconforming students.

The board discussed the policy extensively during a busy meeting which also included updates on a district financial strategic plan and the selection of contractors for the district's $200 million bond levy.

Board members voted on about a dozen proposed amendments to the proposal. The meeting was the fourth this fall in which the board reviewed and edited the policy.

Thursday night’s edits included changes to make it clear all students are allowed to express the gender identity of their choice, not just students who are transgender or gender nonconforming.

Board Chair Vince Adams said this was necessary to avoid creating a protected category of students who have more rights than their peers.

The board also made other changes to language suggested by Corvallis attorney Lorena Reynolds, who has been contributing to the policy.

 The Trump administration pressed a federal appeals court Monday to allow the U.S. military to restrict service by transgender men and women, calling it "truly extraordinary" that judges throughout the country have stood in the way of its policy.

Judge Thomas Griffith noted the way in which President Donald Trump announced the initial ban last year on transgender troops in a series of tweets — and to the surprise of military leaders — "was extraordinary, too."

The exchange in Washington came during oral argument at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and after three lower court judges have temporarily blocked the restrictions in challenges from civil rights and gay rights organizations. Thousands of transgender troops have continued to serve and enlist.

There were parallels in the Trump administration's argument Monday to those made in support of the president's ban on travelers to the U.S. from certain Muslim-majority nations. Trump had initially pledged a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States."

On the transgender service ban, Trump announced the prohibition via Twitter in July 2017, and cited what he viewed as the "tremendous medical costs and disruption" transgender military service would cause. The administration's order reversed President Barack Obama's policy of allowing transgender men and women to serve openly and to receive funding for sex-reassignment surgery.

Attorneys for active-duty service members went to court to block the policy shift that could subject current transgender service members to discharge and deny them certain medical care.

The court rulings were met with another policy revision early this year from Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, who issued a plan to bar men and women from the military who identify with a gender different from their biological sex and who are seeking to undergo the medical transition process. The new plan makes exceptions, for instance, for about 900 transgender individuals who are already serving openly and for others who would serve in their biological sex.

The Justice Department has tried to short circuit the appeals process by asking the Supreme Court to intervene and rule on the issue this term, but the high court has not yet acted.

The dispute at the D.C. Circuit on Monday centered in part on whether Mattis's revised policy is substantially different from the president's initial order. The appeal by the government contends a lower court judge was wrong when she said she could find no evidence transgender troops would harm the military and put Mattis's proposal on hold nationally while the administration continued its legal fight.

Griffith suggested the government's requirement that transgender troops serve in their biological sex would force a person to suppress their nature and what it means to be transgender.

"Isn't that a contradiction in itself?" Griffith asked. He suggested that "no one can fit into the category you describe."

Justice Department attorney Briton Lucas emphasized that a person's transgender status alone was not disqualifying, and noted that a subset of transgender individuals have no interest in transitioning.

That argument was picked up by Judge Stephen F. Williams, who repeatedly referred to transgender individuals who "do not wish to transition," seeming to make the point that the administration's policy is not a complete ban.

"The record in this case is against you," Williams told the lawyer representing the transgender troops, Jennifer Levi.

Levi disagreed. She told the judge a person's gender identity is "deep-seated" and there are significant reasons, including concerns about discrimination, that would make a person reluctant to transition.

The revised policy still is "rooted in discrimination against an entire group," said Levi, who led the team from GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

The court discussion had echoes of arguments over the travel ban and its makeovers.

The administration revised its initial sweeping travel ban after a "worldwide review," and lower courts struck down each of three iterations of the president's policy. In June, the Supreme Court upheld the president's power to control entry into the U.S.

At the D.C. Circuit Monday, the government's lawyer said the new version of the policy restricting transgender military service was crafted based on the military's professional judgment and after extensive review.

Lucas, of the Justice Department, urged the court to defer to the judgment of the military and said the situation was "no different than the travel ban case."

Griffith said the revised version of the travel ban included "many, many differences." The judge added, "You haven't been able to identify so many."

Judge Robert Wilkins also seemed skeptical the recast rule on troops had changed much otherthan its provision allowing current transgender troops already serving openly to remain.

"Other than the grandfather clause, what's the difference?" he asked.

Attorneys for the transgender service members said the revised plan still discriminates because it continues to apply different standards to a group of troops because of gender identity, rather than considering an individual's fitness to serve.

Top military leaders told Congress in April they had seen no evidence transgender personnel serving openly had presented a problem for unit cohesion or military readiness.

A long list of retired military officers, former national security officials and military historians have filed briefs in support of allowing transgender troops. The former officials reject the government's argument that the policy arose from the type of military judgment to which courts should defer. President Trump did not consult with military leaders before announcing the initial ban on Twitter, and, they say, the subsequent order is no different.

The appeal comes after U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly repeatedly rejected the government's requests to lift her initial injunction, finding "absolutely no support for the claim that the ongoing service of transgender people would have any negative effect on the military at all."

In August, the judge acknowledged the plan from Mattis is "more nuanced" but found a similar discriminatory effect.

The Mattis plan "still accomplishes an extremely broad prohibition on military service by transgender individuals that appears to be divorced from any transgender individual's actual ability to serve," Kollar-Kotelly wrote.

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