Trump anti-transgender memo calls for biological definition
A Trump anti-transgender memo is set to make the biggest rollback against recognition and protection of transgender people by defining gender as a biological and immutable condition as determined by genitalia at birth.
This has LGBTQ rights advocates up in arms, with some converging in Washington, DC to protest the move.
Trump anti-transgender memo: Defining gender
Before the Trump administration, the Obama administration had tried to loosen the legal concept of gender in federal programs, especially those covering education and health care.
However, the New York Times reported that the Department of Health and Human Services under President Donald Trump is now trying to establish the legal definition of sex as detailed under Title IX.
Title IX is the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that get government financial assistance.
In their memo, the department wants key government agencies to adopt an explicit and uniform definition of gender “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective, and administrable.”
“Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth,” the department proposed in their memo.
Trump anti-transgender memo to remove protections
With this new definition, the Trump administration would erase federal recognition of an estimated 1.4 million Americans who have chosen to recognize themselves as the gender that they weren’t born into.
“This takes a position that what the medical community understands about their patients– what people understand about themselves– is irrelevant because the government disagrees,” said Catherine E. Lhamon.
Lhamon was the one who led the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights under the Obama administration to write the current transgender guidance.
Roger Severino, the current director of the Office for Civil Rights at the department and a former head of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation, has declined to comment on this.
LGBTQ groups slam Trump anti-transgender memo
With this move, major LGBTQ groups are mobilizing to fight the memo from becoming a reality.
“Transgender people are frightened. At every step where the administration has had the choice, they’ve opted to turn their back on transgender people,” said Sarah Warbelow, the legal director of the Human Rights Campaign.
Harper Jean Tobin, the policy director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, an advocacy group, said this is “an extremely aggressive legal position that is inconsistent with dozens of federal court decisions.”
Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, said: “Anyone who does not conform to rigid gender stereotypes could be at risk. Dehumanizing those you do not like is the hallmark of an authoritarian government.”
“The notion that HHS under the leadership of an anti-transgender ideolog, Roger Severino, can just wish into being a fantasy world which transgender people don’t exist and decades of law no long apply to the federal government, is not how this works,” said Sharon McGowan, chief strategy officer and legal director at Lambda Legal.
Shannon Minter, an attorney with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said this plan was “cynical political ploy to sow discord and energize a right-wing base” before the upcoming midterm polls.
In reaction to this news, transgender people are posting photographs of themselves with the hashtag #WontBeErased while others planned a protest march.