Trans in Trump's America: A Year in Review

From bathrooms to barracks, the civic lives of transgender people in the United States have been threatened to the extreme in 2017.
December 13, 2017, 9:24pm
Collage by Broadly Staff

The day after Donald Trump won the presidential election, I wrote about being terrified for my future, and the future of others in the trans community. I was scared. My friends were scared. And people around the nation were scared. Would the Trump administration undo the achievements and protections we'd fought so hard for, the ones that were keeping us alive?

Trump's presidency has proven to be a true threat to trans rights—from his choice to fill his cabinet with politicians who've axed transgender student rights, to him calling for a ban on transgender service members. But even as we've watched those in power grow increasingly openly hostile to rights of trans people, we have also experienced a mounting resistance from transgender Americans and their allies.


The documentaries below illustrate some of the social issues facing trans people today, and feature some of the inspiring individuals who are working to make this country safe and accepting.

Trans Teens and Bathrooms

The fight for transgender students to have access to bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity, which became a flash point in 2016, continued throughout 2017. Gavin Grimm, a trans teenager who was denied the right to use the boys' room at his high school, was set to have his case heard by the Supreme Court in March. Shortly before he was set to appear, however, the Court decided not to hear his case because Trump had rolled back Obama-era guidelines around protecting trans students from discrimination.

Gavin's cause could have been an opportunity to affirm the rights for trans students throughout the country—something that's desperately needed as trans kids continue to face hostile school systems.

In our three-part series, Youth Interrupted, Broadly spent time with Gavin and two other trans teens who have had their lives disrupted by anti-transgender bathroom laws to see how these harmful policies affect vulnerable youths.

The Military

In July, Trump announced on Twitter that transgender troops would be banned from the US military, citing false information about transgender soldier's impact on their units. (Thankfully, federal courts have since prevented this ban from taking effect.) As the legal battle over the fate of trans soldiers raged, Broadly traveled to Texas to meet a trans woman who was kicked out of the military, revealing that anti-trans discrimination can operate in more insidious ways. As this soldier's story shows, the military doesn't need a ban to get rid of unwanted service members.

Representative Politics

On November 8, we saw history made when a trans woman named Danica Roem was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, becoming the first openly trans person elected to a state house in the United States. Broadly was by Roem's side for the 48 hours leading up to her historic victory.

Trans and The Church

Under the Trump administration, we have seen a revived defense of religious freedom as an excuse for discrimination. As our society struggles to figure out where to draw the line between religion and the law, young transgender people of faith are doing their part to heal their own communities. Broadly followed a trans man named Emmett, who is trying to make a difference in the Mormon Church, deep at its heart in Utah.