[Content warning: transphobia, medical]
I’m fucking done. Most people that read my stuff are probably already terrified by this, but in case you really haven’t heard by the time this goes up, here it is. Trump’s HHS will be proposing a memo that defines “sex” for the purposes of Title IX as based solely on genitals at birth. What. The. Fuck.
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.
Bullshit. None of this is grounded in science. Intersex people aren’t that uncommon, and they completely blow away this lie of an objective binary. Some are androgen insensitive, giving them a “female” body with XY chromosomes. Klinefelter syndrome (XXY sex chromosomes) is as common as 1 in 1,000. And people are born with various ambiguous genitals all the time, which are often mutilated to fit into the binary. Government required genetic testing would be unprecedented and horrific, as would be forced genital examinations for the purpose of “correcting” government documentation.
And if this is extended to all federal documentation such as passports, which it likely could, this is even more restrictive than the policy was before Obama. Back then, changing gender on a passport required GRS, an expensive, irreversible surgery that not all trans people want or need. It was changed in 2010 to only require a single doctor’s note, with no treatment specified. I am planning on using this policy soon to get my own passport updated, as I don’t drive and it’s my main form of government photo ID. Requiring this essential document to be based in one’s chromosomes will be life-altering and absolutely devastating.
For the last year, the Department of Health and Human Services has privately argued that the term “sex” was never meant to include gender identity or even homosexuality, and that the lack of clarity allowed the Obama administration to wrongfully extend civil rights protections to people who should not have them.
People who should not have them?? Is this the first time this administration has explicitly said that some people don’t deserve civil rights? Sure, the entire last 2 years has been run on that idea, imprisoning refugees and the like, but to witness them just say it now is almost poetic.
Mr. [Roger] Severino, while serving as the head of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation, was among the conservatives who blanched at the Obama administration’s expansion of sex to include gender identity, which he called “radical gender ideology.”
In one commentary piece, he called the policies a “culmination of a series of unilateral, and frequently lawless, administration attempts to impose a new definition of what it means to be a man or a woman on the entire nation.”
Another bigot with a persecution complex in the Executive Branch. If anyone would try to cast the final blow on trans acceptance in our government, I would have thought it would be Mike Pompeo or Pence.
The definition is integral to two proposed rules currently under review at the White House: One from the Education Department deals with complaints of sex discrimination at schools and colleges receiving federal financial assistance; the other, from health and human services, deals with health programs and activities that receive federal funds or subsidies. Both regulations are expected to be released this fall, and would then be open for public comment, typically for 60 days. The agencies would consider the comments before issuing final rules with the force of law — both of which could include the new gender definition.
So schools would be free to discriminate against trans students, such as forcing them into wrong gender classes, uniforms, bathrooms, and anything else that’s gendered. Healthcare providers and insurers would be allowed to refuse service to them entirely. Am I going to be refused insurance coverage on my breast exams because of an “M” in a government database? Fuck. This.
After more than a year of discussions, health and human services is preparing to formally present the new definition to the Justice Department before the end of the year, Trump administration officials say. If the Justice Department decides that the change is legal, the new definition can be approved and enforced in Title IX statutes, and across government agencies.
Great. So millions of trans lives, plus mine, are in the hands of one Jefferson Beauregard Sessions. We know how this goes.
But in recent discussions with the administration, civil rights groups, including Lambda Legal, have pointed to other court cases. In a legal memo presented to the administration, a coalition of civil rights groups wrote, “The overwhelming majority of courts to address the question since the most relevant Supreme Court precedent in 1998 have held that antitransgender bias constitutes sex discrimination under federal laws like Title IX.”
Because it does. Anybody that thinks all trans women are just big scary “men in dresses” has never met one. And if they have, they couldn’t tell, and probably catcalled and harassed them just the same. Imagine if somebody told them about trans men…
One of the Trump administration’s first decisive policy acts was the rescission by the Education and Justice Departments of Obama-era guidelines that protected transgender students who wanted to use bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity.
Since the guidance was rescinded, the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights has halted and dismissed discrimination cases filed by transgender students over access to school facilities. A restrictive governmentwide definition would cement the Education Department’s current approach.
What is bigoted cis people’s problem with trans people in bathrooms? Trans women in women’s bathrooms are not any more of a “threat” than any cis woman, because we are women. I’ve been using the women’s room full time at college for the last month, and nobody cares. Granted, I have some amount of passing privilege, at least until they hear my voice, but this really doesn’t need to be an issue. Predators exist regardless of gender.
The department would have to decide what documentation schools would be required to collect to determine or codify gender. Title IX applies to a number of educational experiences, such as sports and single-sex classes or programs where gender identity has come into play. The department has said it will continue to open cases where transgender students face discrimination, bullying and 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.”
At least they’re doing the bare minimum. Or at least paying lip service to it.
I am fortunate to live in the great state of Washington that will fight this tooth and nail, and go to a progressive school with discrimination protections that go above and beyond. As far as my university is concerned, I am Emilia, and I am female. And I will do anything to get similar, unquestioning recognition for any of my trans sisters, brothers, and everyone else. This is a hill I am willing to die on, but we shouldn’t have to. No other developed country treats their own citizens this way, just because of a single “undesirable” trait.
Living in this country seems like an unending onslaught of civil rights threats. In Massachusetts, a ballot measure to repeal gender identity discrimination protection somehow made it to a public vote. Early polling shows that Bay Staters aren’t falling for it, but I implore any reading this to VOTE YES ON 3. North Carolina’s horrible bathroom bill was repealed only after public outcry, massive corporate business losses, and a Department of Justice that was on our side. But we can’t count on that this time, as it’s the feds themselves that hate our very existence.
By the time you read this, I will have submitted my mail ballot in Washington. But voting alone won’t stop this. I urge anyone reading to donate to the ACLU, Lambda Legal, Trans Lifeline, Trevor Project, or any other civil rights group. This is going to go to the courts, just like the trans military ban. We won that time. This time it will be harder, with more conservative judges than ever before. But with a strong defense, even they should see how poorly conceived and burdensome this policy change is.
Stay strong. Keep your supportive friends and family close. Don’t overwork yourself. We can make it. ❤