From The Washington Blade: http://www.washingtonblade.com/2016/05/18/an-evolution-for-obama-in-favor-of-trans-rights/
by Chris Johnson
May 18, 2016
The Obama administration is taking monumental strides in favor of transgender rights that may seem unprecedented, but trans advocates have differing takes on whether these developments represent a change since the start of President Obama’s tenure in the White House.
The new initiatives, unveiled last week, began with a lawsuit filed by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch against North Carolina’s House Bill 2, which prohibits transgender people in the state from using public restrooms in schools and government buildings consistent with their gender identity. In widely praised remarks announcing the lawsuit, Lynch compared the law to Jim Crow laws, calling House Bill 2 “state-sponsored discrimination.”
At the end of the week, the Departments of Education and Justice issued joint guidance informing schools discrimination against transgender students, including in bathroom use, constitutes a violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which could result in a loss of federal funds for the state.
Finally, the Department of Health & Human Services announced it had made final a rule prohibiting anti-trans discrimination in health care and insurance. The rule requires insurance plans to cover transition-related medications, gender reassignment surgeries and other treatments for transgender people if these plans cover similar services to non-transgender people with other medical conditions.
The trans focus of these initiatives stands in contrast to more gay-centric progress earlier in the Obama administration, such as efforts to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and ensure marriage rights for same-sex couples nationwide. Support for trans rights was often done in the context of initiatives in favor of LGBT community writ-large, such as Obama’s support at the start of his administration for a trans-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act and hate crimes protections legislation.
Much like Obama’s “evolution” before he announced in 2012 he supports same-sex marriage, observers might assume a similar evolution in support of trans rights.