Over the weekend, news broke that the Trump administration was considering a dramatic rule change that would essentially “erase” trans people from the eyes of the federal government. According to The New York Times:
Now the Department of Health and Human Services is spearheading an effort to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times. 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.
There’s a problem with using “the genitals that a person is born with” and “genetic testing” to determine sex, let alone gender. For example, there are a whole host of conditions where either of these measures to define sex fall short, making it much more suitable for individuals themselves to determine what sex they would like to identify as.
But putting that aside, it’s absolutely monstrous for the government to pretend trans Americans don’t exist, especially when increased trans visibility has them poised to finally win lasting legal protections. Moreover, the rule change would undo Obama-era regulations that allowed gender to be determined by individuals for the purposes of some government programs. In other words, it’s a massive step backward.
The dramatic move caught trans activists (and everyone else) off guard and they and their allies sounded off on Twitter.
Trump addresses the question about trans stuff by... uh... mumbling something that doesn't make sense. Asked about his "promise to protect LGBT people," he says he's "protecting everybody," which again, suggests he's talking about terrorism, not civil rights. pic.twitter.com/Jf0sIGY2gy— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) October 22, 2018
CW: Politics— [email protected] (@tucakeane) October 22, 2018
OK, as someone who has seen and worked with plenty of "Mexicans for Trump" "Welfare Recipients for Trump" and "Women for Trump",
We can all agree nobody in the LGBTQ community is coming out to support this guy.
Especially after today. pic.twitter.com/HfDytauZ1H
And LGBT comic Dana Goldberg had one of the best responses to the bad faith “trans panic” gripping the Republicans across the country:
The fight for trans rights mirrors the fight for gay rights in many ways. The path to marriage equality, for example, was fraught with false starts, token lip service, and even a major political party (guess which one!) scaremongering to turn out their base with the promise of an anti-marriage equality Constitutional amendment. By the time marriage equality was secured, it was essentially uncontroversial.