'Transgender' could be pushed out of existence by the Trump administration. The proposed law will strictly define gender as a permanent biological condition determined by genitalia at birth. The most radical move yet in a governmentwide effort to remove recognition and protections of transgender citizens. Under the direction of the Obama administration, laws were loosened, and views shifted through a series of decisions that proposed that gender was a primarily a personal choice, not a biological trait. Although this fueled arguments over bathroom rights, dormitories, and single-sex activities (such as boy scouts or football), it was still a step for the transgender community.
The life of a transgender individual can be challenging- they face discrimination and hate constantly. However, it doesn't have to be; it can be transformative, enlightening, and exciting for not only the individuals but also the people who love and support them. According to 2011 statistics from the Williams Institute, nearly 700,000 Americans identify as transgender and rising.
Transgender people have fought for decades for the most basic of human rights; For the power to be perceived as their true selves, called by their chosen name, addressed by the appropriate pronouns, and to have their driver's license match their chosen identity.
Recently, the New York Times intercepted a memo from the Department of Health and Human Services. This memo states that crucial government agencies need to adopt an 'explicit and uniform' definition of gender. It goes on to say that this definition would define sex as male or female, determined by genitalia at the time of birth. Additionally, if there were a dispute over a person's gender, it would have to be clarified by the use of genetic testing.
The memo, which has been circulating since last spring, proposed that "Sex means a person's status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth." It continues by saying "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 new definition of gender would eliminate federal recognition of the currently estimated 1.4 million Americans who refer to themselves as a gender other than the one assigned at birth.
The Department of Health is pushing the Departments of Education, Justice, Human Services, and Labor to adopt this definition for gender to help establish uniformity across the government and to increase the likelihood that courts will approve it.
The Trump Administration has previously tried to bar transgender individuals from serving in the military, but this new definition will take things a step farther. This new definition will allow insurance companies to refuse coverage for transition-based procedures, such as gender reassignment surgery and hormone therapy, which has deemed medically necessary if the individual meets a set of requirements.
If this law passes, transgender individuals will be unable to change their M/F gender markers on documents such as their birth certificate and drivers licenses. Additionally, this will open transgender citizens to more discrimination- forcing them to ask which locker room they should use at the gym or which bathroom to use at their job. To some, these may seem like minor inconveniences, but for someone in transition, this is drawing negative attention and in some cases, forcing the disclosure of personal information that wouldn't have been known otherwise.
Additionally, this memo would affect school-aged students educational experiences, like sports and single-sex classes or programs where gender identity has come into play. According to The New York Times, the department has stated that it will continue to view cases in which transgender students face discrimination, bullying, harassment, and investigate gender-based harassment as "unwelcome conduct based on a student's sex" or "harassing conduct based on a student's failure to conform to sex stereotypes."
This memo and the proposal of the Trump Administration is not something that can go unnoticed. The trans community is under attack, and they are in dire need of allies. Trans rights are human rights, and we will not let them be erased.