Words Matter

The AVP Action Brief tracks actions of the Trump administration that impact our communities’ safety and rights and offers concrete steps that we can take to stand up for safety and justice.

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Words Matter

On Friday, in a meeting at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Trump administration pushed to prohibit the CDC from using a list of seven words in 2018 budget documents: “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.” The erasure of science-based, evidence-based policies and the erasure of marginalized, vulnerable communities is a way for this administration to push their own agenda — one that has nothing to do with public good.

The Director of the CDC was quick to say that the list of words and phrases wasn’t a formal, outright ban; however, even suggesting that CDC employees not use words like “transgender” or “vulnerable” can change the direction of policies and research priorities at the CDC, our leading publicly funded, public health agency. Transgender people are already rarely included in public health research, meaning we have less information on the health and wellbeing needs of transgender communities. We must fight for transgender and gender non-conforming people to be counted too.

In the same way that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) quietly removed questions about LGBTQ elders from research and LGBTQ-specific questions were removed from the census, this is another example of the Trump administration’s larger strategy of ignoring LGBTQ and other marginalized communities. When data isn’t being collected on our communities and their needs, they’re left out of public policy, funding decisions, and public health programming.

We must continue to demand transparency and responsibility from our publicly funded programs and insist that ALL communities are supported by the CDC.


Here’s what you can do. 

  • Support the National LGBT Task Force and National Partnership for Women & Families protest at HHS by sharing this video of Monday’s rally and amplifying their Wednesday rally—follow @TheTaskForce for the most updated information.
  • Contact your representatives to let them know that you want to push for LGBTQ and especially TGNC inclusion in CDC research and programming.
  • Join the conversation online using the hashtags #CDCbannedwords and #CDC7words.


And you can always:

  • Report violence you experience or witness to AVP and Communities Against Hate.
  • If you know someone who is an LGBTQ survivor of violence who is experiencing trauma or fear as a result of these recent actions, encourage them to contact AVP’s confidential 24-hour English/Spanish hotline at (212) 714-1141. They will be connected with a counselor who understands the ways this political climate is affecting our communities.
  • Get involved—volunteer with AVP!
  • Support AVP: Give now to ensure our voices are heard.
  • Forward this email to a friend. Ask them to sign up for the AVP Action Brief to stay informed and activated, too.


Further reading:

Washington Post: CDC gets list of forbidden words: Fetus, transgender, diversity
PBS: CDC director says there are ‘no banned words’ at the agency