It didn’t register much earlier this year because of the chaotic presidency that has scrambling journalists fixated on what “this is not normal” aspect of the Trump presidency to focus on (spoiler: racism, prejudice, stereotypes are all classically American). But in March, the US Census Bureau removed any references to LGBT+ members of the American public from a draft of the 2020 US Census.
To be clear, LGBT questions have never been a part of the census: America has done gloriously throughout most of this country’s history at removing us from where it likes looking. But since we won the right to marry, and had the audacity to ask for a rainbow crosswalk despite the heavy panting and furious typing in Facebook comments, we have actually arrived as part of the American landscape.
Not until the Obama presidency were we taken seriously by any president. Not until Loretta Lynch did we have an attorney general who said to transgender people, “We see you.” But arrive we did, and although it took until 2013, we were recognized mostly as human beings on equal footing with, you know, REAL Americans, like gun owners and violent police.
As such, it would be great if the census would acknowledge us and measure whether we are enjoying an equitable distribution of what society has to offer. As Meghan Maury, Criminal and Economic Justice Project Director at the National LGBTQ Task Force, asked when this story broke, “If the government doesn’t know how many LGBTQ people live in a community, how can it do its job to ensure we’re getting fair and adequate access to the rights, protections and services we need?”
Dare we ask for equality? Not at this time. Since the census bureau is supposed to release the categories it intends to ask about three years ahead of time, that means the George W. Bush administration got to do it last time, President “Defense of Marriage Act” before him and the Reagan administration before that. In all likelihood, we may have to wait until a Democratic administration is in power three years before a census to see if we are allowed to be recorded.
Make no mistake: the debates about bathrooms and marriages and RFRA are to keep us out of the society in which we are not wanted. Society at large may be growing in its respect for us, but we live under a government that supports our demise. The vice president has made it his life’s work to vanquish us. And because he can’t rid his life of us, he aims to make it more difficult for us to live day-to-day.
To be left out of the census is a victory for the people who don’t want to register us as full members of society. In this instance, Pence won and we lost. The federal government gives no shit about you whatsoever.
It is as easy to get distracted now as it was in March, because the president spent the week throwing paper towels at those whose tangible lives had just been washed away, and because yet another collection of bright American lives was extinguished due to the gun fetish this country fluffs above all else, but we shouldn’t forget that behind the loud noises, this administration is packed with people who detest us and have made it their mission to erase us from public life.