I knew that the repeal of the transgender protections was coming weeks ago, well before they were announced. I have a friend who has a friend in the Department of Justice and the rumblings were already making their way around, but since I didn't have specifics I didn't know what to write about. When it finally broke, even though I knew it was coming, I still didn't know what I was going to say about the subject. So many writers out there, of course, went right to the raging about Donald Trump never being an actual LGBT ally. Others went for how terrible it was going to be for children, about civil rights, about persecution. A few went to talk about how they had suffered when they were young, others waved the banner and sounded the trumpet to lead the resistance, and yet I still didn't know what I would write.
What new, hot angle could I take with this that wasn't being covered already? Then the Betsy DeVos stuff leaked. First it was revealed that she apparently was fighting against Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a man who reminds me of a William Faulkner villain, over repealing the protections. People came out and said she should have fought harder. I thought about that for a bit, but it was just a bit ... odd. Then she appeared at the Conservative Political Action Conference, that safe-space gathering for conservative snowflakes, and said that those Obama-directed protections were an example of federal overreach. That's when I just had to laugh and think, Now, that's a pair of brass balls. Yeah, I'm crass, but it works for me.
The fact that Betsy DeVos had the audacity to lie right to the world and spin the fact that she in essence was giving permission for people to bully, harass, and assault children was just, wow. Not adults; children in school. The original story from The New York Times said that she was fighting against Sessions (dead ringer for an elderly, bigoted Alfred E. Neuman), who wanted to revoke the protections, but she was forced to capitulate when Trump insisted on it; that piece was garbage.
DeVos, a woman who has openly stated that she wants to turn schools into "part of God's Kingdom," was never going to defend LGBT students. She was never going to defend any students. This woman has dedicated her life to dismantling the American public school system in favor of charter schools and vouchers, which has always been a back-door way to shove religion down the throats of kids via religious schools. (Full disclosure: I went to a Catholic school as a kid and it was one of the best schools I ever attended, but I don't think that people should be coerced into going to religious schools.)
Private schools, especially the ones that don't receive government money, can get away with forcing kids to listen to whatever they want to teach as long as it passes the government's requirements -- which, mind you, can become politicized as well. Hell, everyone knows about Texas public schools.
Public schools are the way that minorities and the poor have even the slightest chance of escaping cycles of oppression and poverty. Public schools have always been required to protect and treat all their students with equality and respect. Oh yeah, the teachers and principals and school boards screw up all the time, but at least they can be held accountable.
But when that story leaked, people asked why DeVos didn't resign in defiance if she cared that much. The answer, of course, was simple; she just didn't give enough of a damn. If resisting the revocation of transgender protections means building "God's kingdom" would have to wait, that's not even a tough choice. I think the debate was as serious as those times when you hold out your arm and say, "Oh, twist my arm" and you cave immediately while laughing.
DeVos was never going to defend LGBT students at any point.
Let this moment serve as the nail in the coffin of any notion that Trump was ever, ever, going to be an ally to the LGBT community. DeVos was always going to be a woman who bought a Cabinet post with campaign donations so she could enact an agenda for a system she literally knows nothing about. Lying Jeff Sessions was never going to defend the civil rights of anyone who isn't white, straight, or Christian (in fact, he just rolled back the rules on corporate prisons). Shadow president Steve Bannon is openly anti-Semitic and racist, and has stated he wants to destroy the State. Vice President Pence, we all know, is an advocate for conversion therapy (and unsecured email servers), and as for Trump?
Trump is actually incapable of seeing other human beings as people. Like, genuinely incapable of understanding that other people have emotions. He sees them as merely toys and cogs meant to placate his ego and rubes to pad his wallet. Trump is the guy who would ask a man hanging by his fingertips off a cliff what he would pay for being rescued. To call this administration evil is simple. To call this administration a collection of sociopaths in need of a mental hospital is far more descriptive and accurate. Never, ever let anyone convince you otherwise. And never, ever forget this.
AMANDA KERRI is a writer and comedian based in Oklahoma City. Follow her on Twitter @EternalKerri.