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George's LGBTea: Trump Administration CDC Word Ban Continues Attack on Marginalized Bodies

This weekend it was reported that the Trump administration sent a mandate to the CDC removing various words that could be included in 2018 budget documents. The list of words removed include: diversity, fetus, transgender, vulnerable, entitlement, science-based and evidence-based.

The Department of Health and Human Services has refuted what occurred as a “mischaracterization.” However, those present for the 90-minute debriefing have been left stunned, stating: "It was very much, Are you serious? Are you kidding?”

Several organizations have made public statements against this developing story, as its implications are a very clear attack against women, transgender people, and communities of color.

Executive Director of The National Center for Transgender Equality, Mara Keisling stated: "To pretend and insist that transgender people do not exist, and to allow this lie to infect public health research and prevention is irrational and very dangerous." She went on to state that "[t]he Trump administration is full of dangerous science deniers who have no business near American public health systems like the CDC. They are actually going to kill Americans if they do not stop."

This follows a trend with the Trump Administration when it comes to attacking the rights of women and transgender individuals. Two populations that are also affected at a higher rate than other demographics in terms of new HIV infections.

For transgender persons, the attack on their lives has been evident since this administration took to office. There was an initial removal of the designation of “LGBT” from the Census, which sparked controversy as the first signs that the administration would be attacking marginalized identities. This was then followed by an erratic string of tweets from Trump stating that the military would no longer allow transgender people to serve.

He stated:

"After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you."

This decision was challenged and blocked by federal judges who on November 28th stated, “The US military must allow openly serving transgender recruits starting on January 1, a federal judge ruled on Monday.”

The ruling clarifies a previous injunction issued in October by U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in Washington, DC. 

President Donald Trump’s administration is already appealing the October decision. But it also “asked the court to clarify whether Defense Secretary James Mattis has the discretion, under her ruling, to delay the start date for recruitment of openly trans soldiers. Kollar-Kotelly responded that no, he does not, and the military must start taking trans recruits on January 1.”

This attack intersected with the recent attempt to cut HIV funding could be disastrous towards the work being done to help reduce the new infections that continue to hurt the transgender community, which is affected at a disproportionate rate. The inability to use the word “transgender” in budget requests could affect funding needed to create new programs and resources needed for that community.

Being unable to use the word transgender means you can’t make requests for funding specific to that population. This could then, in turn, hurt other marginalized groups within the LGBQ community, as they will have to divert funds received by those groups to ensure services can be rendered to transgender individuals. Or even worse, current programs that are being run by agencies would have to end without unrestricted monies—outside funding—coming in to cover the shortfall in funding.

Health and Human Services spokesman Matt Lloyd disputed the report in a statement to CNN:

"The assertion that HHS has 'banned words' is a complete mischaracterization of discussions regarding the budget formulation process," Lloyd said. "HHS will continue to use the best scientific evidence available to improve the health of all Americans. HHS also strongly encourages the use of outcome and evidence data in program evaluations and budget decisions."

This is a developing story we will update as more information becomes available.