Cissie Graham Lynch praised the Trump administration's so-called protection of religious freedom.
Cissie Graham Lynch, the daughter of Franklin Graham and the granddaughter of Billy Graham, praised Donald Trump for undoing much of the Obama administration's work to advance LGBTQ rights while giving a speech on the second night of the 2020 Republican National Convention.
Lynch, who serves on the executive evangelical advisory board of Trump's faith advisory council, took aim at transgender equality in particular and engaged in fear-mongering about transgender children.
Lynch said that during the Obama administration, religious freedom was "under attack."
She went on to say:
Democrats tried to force adoption agencies to violate their deeply held beliefs. Democrats pressured schools to allow boys to compete in girls sports and use girls locker rooms. Those are the facts.
But then, we the people, elected Donald Trump. People of faith suddenly had a fierce advocate in the White House. He appointed judges who respect the First Amendment. He supported religious beliefs in court. He ensured that religious ministries would not have to violate their beliefs. He withdrew the policies that put our little girls at risk.
Lynch's remarks misgendered transgender students who, under the Obama administration, had their access to facilities and activities corresponding with their gender explicitly protected under federal law.
In 2016, the Obama administration released guidance for schools that said discrimination on the basis of sex under Title IX includes discrimination against transgender students.
But in 2017, one month after Trump's inauguration, his administration rescinded it.
Lynch's statement that Obama-era policies put little girls "at risk" echoes longstanding claims by conservatives that are not backed by evidence, but which accuse transgender girls and women of harming cisgender girls and women in spaces such as bathrooms.
These attitudes about transgender people have been echoed in the Trump administration, including through a proposed Department of Housing and Urban Development regulation that says shelter providers should scrutinize women's appearances to judge if they are transgender so they can decide whether or not to exclude them from homeless shelters.
Graham's anti-trans comments come as transgender people face economic insecurity and health risks during a pandemic. According to a Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law study released in April, out of 1.4 million U.S. transgender adults, 208,500 transgender adults have asthma, 81,100 have diabetes, 74,800 are living with HIV, and 72,700 have heart disease.
This means hundreds of thousands of transgender people are at a higher risk for severe illness from the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidance on COVID-19.
The Williams Institute also says an estimated 139,700 transgender people were already out of work when the pandemic began. Pervasive discrimination in employment, housing, and health care only makes matters worse for many transgender Americans.
A survey conducted in April and May from the Human Rights Campaign, in partnership with PSB Research, found that 27% of transgender people and 37% of transgender people of color have had a pay cut due to COVID-19, compared to 7% of the general population.
Eliza Byard, director of GLSEN, an education group focused on ending discrimination and harassment against LGBTQ people, said, "Lynch's comments are absurd and it's disturbing to see such blatant misgendering and transphobia given a national platform. Singling out transgender youth with this vicious and false attack is truly shameful, and puts some of our most vulnerable students at greater risk of violence, discrimination, and self-harm."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.