The latest and shocking news from Washington has seen the nation and the world up in arms over Trumps latest policy. In a baffling move to undo the progress that the Obama administration made regarding transgender individuals, Trumps cohort has announced a new plan to define gender in a manner which could eradicate transgender recognition.
During the Obama administration a definition of gender was adopted that interpreted ‘sex’ to include ‘gender identiy’. It permitted recognition based on an individuals preference and psychological factors, meaning it was not restricted to gender at birth. There were problems reported as a consequence of this, such as conflict over the use of bathrooms, sleeping areas, or single sex arenas. However, these problems could seemingly have been resolved through education, more consideration or other dispute resolution means. To backtrack on the progress made and redefine the meaning of gender seems an unwarranted and disproportionate act in light of these problems.
“The idea that a person’s sex is determined by their anatomy at birth is not true, and we’ve known that it’s not true for decades,” – Dr. Joshua D. Safer/New York Times
The latest proposed legal categorisation of gender being driven by the Department of Health and Human Services is “determined on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.”. It is to be defined based on your genitals and therefore your sex at birth, and will be immutable. Such a definition if accepted would mean the only way for one to legally change their gender would be if genetic testing could prove something contrary to what is registered on their birth certificate. The proposed definition would be introduced under Title IX of the Federal and Civil Rights Law. Yet, it would be diminishing the civil rights of transgender individuals and eradicating their ‘official’ existence in the USA all together.
“[T]he 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.” – New York Times
The New York times reporting on this issue suggest that this is just one move of many in the Trump administration to try and exclude transgender people from society. The administration have previously questioned the national health care law which provides certain assurances for transgender individuals. Additionally, they have attempted to prohibit transgenders from military. Why? I am unsure. What lesser capability would a transgender individual have to serve their country than a non transgender? Who knows, but it paints a picture which doesn’t leave much hope regarding the acceptance of the new determination of gender.
The Department of Health and Human Services will present the proposed definition to the Justice Department by the end of this year. They have called on four other influential departments to back the definition in the hope of strengthening their proposal and their chances of the court accepting it.
The Attorney General has previously backed positioning which ruled that the prohibition of job discrimination does not include gender identity. This indicates the position that gender identity is not real, or not a real problem for that matter. It seems increasingly as though the nation is trying to sweep the issue of gender identity under the carpet. By removing certain rights from those who challenge gender identity, by excluding them from society and by altering the very meaning of ‘sex’ to purposefully make it impossible for them to be recognised, it is hard to not think that the government is indeed trying to eradicate them.
However we know this is not possible. You cannot remove a certain section of society (1.4 million in the USA) just by outlawing them from certain definitions or rights. All that will happen if the Justice Department accepts this new definition is that transgender people will still exist, in the same homes in the same jobs, but stripped of certain civil rights which can protect their health and quality of life. Whats more, a message like this coming from the government which seeks to make transgender people invisible in the eyes of the law, is likely to spur an increase in discrimination and hate speech. If enforced, this move will increase human rights violations of an already vulnerable population. All the more bitter when Obama’s administration made headway to increased recognition of their civil rights and a better quality of life.
“This is an attack on the humanity of transgender people and it cannot stand. Let’s send a clear message that we won’t sit back and allow this type of discrimination in two weeks at the ballot box.” – Hillary Clinton
We will await to see the verdict from the Justice Department. In the meantime all Americans are being urged to have their say and vote on 6th November 2018 before it is set in stone.