LGBTQ rollbacks by the Trump administration leave the community fragile as the election nears

By Taylor Eagleston

When President Donald Trump was elected into office in 2016, Tommi Lynn Serpa said she was scared for herself and the LGBTQ community. 

Serpa, who resides in Mesa, explained that she came out and transitioned when Trump was elected because she was afraid that if things went too far in Trump’s administration she would never be able to be her true self. 

“I feel like we were making good progress for a while. And, almost immediately upon entering office, he made everything that we’d work for just feel like it was very fragile,” said Serpa, a transgender woman. 

Former Tempe Mayor Neil Giuliano said the Trump administration has not been friendly to the LGBTQ community and it has attempted and succeeded at rolling back LGBTQ rights.

Giuliano said the Trump administration serves a “religious, right-faction of society that believes that sexual orientation is a choice and therefore is not deserving of any accommodation or protection from the government.”

The president rolled back health care discrimination protections for members of the LGBTQ community on June 12. That day also marked the fourth anniversary of the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub, an LGBTQ club in Orlando, Florida.

The newest rollback allows doctors to discriminate against people who identify as LGBTQ for their religious and personal beliefs. 

Dr. Mark Gulinson, a gastroenterologist in Phoenix, said that doctors should not discriminate against a patient for any reason. 

Dr. Mark Gulinson

Giuliano, who is part of the LGBTQ community, said that it is not acceptable for a doctor to discriminate against anyone because they take an oath to care for people.

“It’s an oath to do no harm,” said Gulinson, “the same thing would be held true to discriminating against the patient, for whatever reason, you’re potentially doing the patient harm.”

When it comes to physicians caring for LGBTQ patients, Gulinson said that he has an “optimistic standpoint.” He does not personally know any physicians that would discriminate against a patient. He also said this, “probably isn’t true in other parts of the country.”

Serpa said that people who are biased against LGBTQ individuals are going to show it no matter what but this rollback gives those who wish to discriminate against her the power to do so. She said that she hasn’t been denied medical attention but she has experienced, “subtle kinda jabs, and intentional misgendering.” 

“It’s rolling back our society to the pre-civil rights era in a dangerous sort of way,” Gulinson said. 

He explained that if Trump is re-elected, society will likely continue going backward, especially if Trump’s Supreme Court pick is approved by Congress. 

After Trump introduced Amy Coney Barrett as the Supreme Court nomination, Giuliano said, “the framework of being noninclusive and non-friendly toward LGBTQ people will continue.”

Giuliano said that his friends and family members' votes this election will be significantly influenced by Trump's treatment of the LGBTQ community. However, he also said that it is “just one metric and one lens that is used for determining how they are going to vote.”

Serpa is facing a different situation. She said that she still has family members who will be voting for Trump despite what she describes as policies that are against who she is.

Tommi Lynn Serpa

Serpa said she wants others to “see the personal stories in their lives being affected by him and his policies.”

Serpa said that if Trump is re-elected and Barrett is accepted as the  Supreme Court pick she fears that, “we’d end up going back to hiding out in bars like they were in the ‘70s and ‘80s.”

“We are people, and we are also citizens and human beings, and letting us have rights doesn't take away from anybody else's rights,” Serpa said.

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