In the Trump administration’s latest effort to reverse transgender rights, the office is reportedly putting for a legal effort to redefine gender. On Sunday a piece by The New York Times revealed that the White House is currently considering a move that would not only legally limit gender as a concept based on biological sex at birth but also deny certain rights to transgender people and those whose gender identity differs from their sex.
According to a leaked memo written by the Department of Health and Human Services, the White House has outlined an argument that calls for a uniform definition of gender.
The DHHS memo pushes to define gender as one and the same as a person’s biological sex at birth.
The agency argues in its memo that a person’s gender is the same as their sex, moreover that at birth, a person’s gender will be decided by their sex. In the memo, which was drafted last spring, the department contends that “Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth… The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex, unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.”
This is an assertion the White House is making even despite the fact that various groups, namely the American Academy of Pediatrics recognize the differences between gender identity and sex based on decades of scientific research. Just last year, AAP released a statement in support of transgender children, adolescents and young adults that asserted it “supports policies that are gender-affirming for children – an approach that is supported by other key professional organizations… We urge all the leaders in our communities to use language that inspires and empowers children, adolescents, and young adults. Our nation’s future success depends on them.”
According to the New York Times, the new policy would change the way gender is defined by Title IX. The federal law, which was established in 1972, bans sexual discrimination and was loosened by the Obama administration with changes that worked to include rights for transgender people. The then-president added a line into the law that states “a person’s gender identity may be different from or the same as the person’s sex assigned at birth.”
The memo is another mark in the Trump administration’s ongoing anti-LGBTQ daytimer.
Trump established his office’s position on supporting the LGBTQ+ community on day one of his administration. A little less than two hours after he was sworn into office, the country saw his administration remove all mentions of LGBTQ issues from the official White House webpage.
His threats to the Latinx community directly have been primarily visible in his efforts to deport undocumented immigrants and refugees, a large group of which includes those who have fled their homes in search of protection because of the threats they faced as a result of their gender identities. In addition, the president has also made attempts to block the trans community from serving their country in the military, removed an Obama-era policy that gave bathroom rights to trans students, and in March 2017 retracted a proposal that would allow the 2020 census to collect information concerning gender and sexual identity.
Trump’s latest policy would impact the rights of the 1.4 million trans-American citizens.
In response to the draft, Chad Griffin, president of Human Rights Campaign president, emphasized that “Defining ‘sex’ in this narrow language tailored to the talking points of anti-equality extremists is part of a deliberate strategy to eliminate federal protections for LGBTQ people. This is a direct attack on the fundamental equality of LGBTQ people and, if this administration refuses to reverse course, Congress must immediately take action by advancing the Equality Act to ensure that LGBTQ people are explicitly protected by our nation’s civil rights laws.”
Lawmakers, politicians, and supporters of the LGBTQ+ community have responded to the potential law change on Twitter.
This is an attack on the humanity of transgender people and it cannot stand. Let's send a clear message that we won't sit back and allow this type of discrimination in two weeks at the ballot box. https://t.co/grIA0sIqN7
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 22, 2018
Hillary Clinton responded to the New York Times article by reminding followers that they could make a difference in the policy’s future by voting.
Many Twitter users expressed their genuine fear of what the policy could mean for their future and lives.
I can’t begin to express the rage I feel toward an administration that is trying to redefine me out of existence. Just another gift for his small minded base, terrified of the diversity that has always made America exceptional! #Vote https://t.co/OrAPEnaK9r
— Chaz Bono (@ChazBono) October 21, 2018
Chaz Bono, who has staunchly used his platforms advocating for the LGBTQ+ community in the years since coming out as trans, also took to Twitter to express how he felt about the policy.
Many also took to Twitter to underline how much of a threat the policy poses.
This is horrifying. These inhumane, cruel, and discriminatory policies are dangerous and do not represent the needs of our diverse communities. https://t.co/qQaVwnGamI
— Planned Parenthood Action (@PPact) October 21, 2018
2018 saw the worst rate of deadly assaults against transgender Americans in the Human Rights Campaign’s recorded history. Over the past three years, transgender deaths by fatal violence have vastly increased. In 2015 there 22 transgender people were murdered. By September of this year, 21 murdered had already been reported. Of that number, 19 transgender people of color were killed.
There’s no telling if the administration’s latest effort will actually pull through for them. Here’s hoping November 6. and future votes can make a difference.