Following the recent New York Times report that the Trump administration is considering a move to define gender strictly by an individual’s sex at birth, Charlton, Mass. town constable and elected library trustee Jordan Evans felt betrayed by her own party, she told The Washington Post.
She’s a Republican, as are most of the people in her hometown, a rural community where about 54 percent of voters cast their ballots for Donald Trump in 2016. Evans is also transgender, as are about 1 million other adult Americans, according to rough estimates. Few combine the two identities. Evans is believed to be the lone openly transgender elected Republican — “my cross to bear,” as she puts it.
Evans told the Post she is “afraid” and “absolutely distraught” over the Trump administration’s stance on transgender people.
“Not so much afraid for me," clarified Evans, who has been embraced by those closest to her since she first came out as transgender in 2013 and began to medically transition in 2015. "I’m afraid for people who are younger than me — people who don’t have the kind of experiences in the world that I’ve had. They see this, and they’re rightfully terrified.”
The new policy, she observed, would be in line with the president’s attempt to ban transgender troops — an order repeatedly blocked by the courts. The administration has also prohibited officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from using the word “transgender” in official budget documents, as The Washington Post reported in December, and the Department of Health and Human Services has archived a page that outlined services available for LGBT people. In February, the government revoked Obama administration protections for transgender students that allowed them to use bathrooms, locker rooms and other facilities that matched their gender identity rather than their sex assigned at birth.
But Evans is not interested in leaving the Republican Party, though the support she sees on the Democratic side is inviting.
The only way to change Republican views is to stay on the inside and preserve access to the very people who need to hear her message — those the Democrats are far less likely to reach, Evans said.
Evans also reasons that her views, while consistent with many of the aspirations of the Democratic Party, arise from conservative principles. Her work, she said, lies in persuading other Republicans to adhere to these principles, which mainly revolve around a commitment to limited government.
“For trans people to be phased out of existence, that would be a violation of individual rights,” she said. “How can we stand for individual liberties if we are ready and willing to use the force of government — completely antithetical to what Republicans believe — to deny someone’s ability to exist in our society? As Republicans, we should be appalled at that.”
Evans, who cast her 2016 ballot for the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson, said she vowed from day one to praise Trump when he does something well and call him out when his actions go against her beliefs.
She said it was “tough” to oppose a president who wields so much power within the party. But she criticized other elected officials for simply bowing out — leaving the party or leaving office all together.
“If we’re going to change the party, if we’re going to steer it away from the direction it’s going, we can’t leave,” she said.