The Trump administration’s radical plan to regulate away trans identity
The New York Times reported on Sunday that the Trump administration is considering narrowly defining gender as a biological and immutable condition determined at birth – its most draconian assault yet on federal civil rights and protections for transgender people.
According to a memo obtained by the daily, the Department of Health and Human Services plans to rewrite the legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance.
Under the Trump administration, the new definition, “would essentially eradicate federal recognition of the estimated 1.4 million Americans who have opted to recognize themselves — surgically or otherwise — as a gender other than the one they were born into,” according to The Times.
The move would reverse gains made under the Obama administration that saw steady inroads in the recognition of transgender people and a greater recognition of gender as determined by an individual’s choice, not biological attributes at birth.
“This takes a position that what the medical community understands about their patients — what people understand about themselves — is irrelevant because the government disagrees,” Catherine E. Lhamon, who led the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights under the Obama administration and helped write the guidance on gender that the Trump administration is seeking to overturn.
The Times wrote:
“The department argued in its memo that key government agencies needed to adopt an explicit and uniform definition of gender as determined ‘on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.’ The agency’s proposed definition would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with, according to a draft reviewed by The Times. Any dispute about one’s sex would have to be clarified using genetic testing.”
The moved comes against the backdrop of a serious of setbacks by the Trump administration in its efforts to restrict the rights afforded to trans people, most notably its failure to push through its plan to bar transgender people from the US military services.
The Trump administration also has been in the vanguard in efforts to restrict access that transgender people have to public restrooms, lending its support to some localities that have attempted to restrict trans peoples’ bathroom access in schools, gym locker rooms and other public facilities.
The National Center for Transgender Equality condemned the proposed changes in the strongest possible terms, saying the administration’s efforts to rewrite how gender is classified “ignore law, medicine, and basic human decency.”
“This proposal is an attempt to put heartless restraints on the lives of two million people, effectively abandoning our right to equal access to health care, to housing, to education, or to fair treatment under the law,” it said in a statement on Sunday.
“This administration is willing to disregard the established medical and legal view of our rights and ourselves to solidify an archaic, dogmatic, and frightening view of the world. This transparent political attack will not succeed administratively, legally, or morally.”
Not only is the policy morally flawed, the NCTE said, but it is destined to fail, and in spectacular fashion.
“No rule—no administration—can erase the experiences of transgender people and our families. While foolish, this proposed rule deflates itself in the face of the facts, and the facts don’t care how the Trump administration feels,” the group said.
The organization vowed to redouble its efforts to get legislation passed that would protect transgender people from the whims of transphobic administration.
“We have fought and will continue to fight for The Equality Act, a bill currently in Congress that would explicitly enshrine civil rights protections for transgender people—Congress must pass this long overdue bill now,” NCTE said.
“We know how to defeat this, and we will do everything we can until every transgender person feels secure in their rights under the law.”