Trump Administration seeks to define gender

transgender symbol
Proposal will undo the protections put into place for LGBTs under Obama

The Trump administration is considering measures that will define gender as a ‘biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth’. A draft of a proposal addressing this by the Department of Health and Human Services was viewed and published by the New York Times. This is the latest in a string of rollbacks by the administration. It seeks to undo the protections put into place for the LGBT community under President Barack Obama.

In a series of decisions made under Obama, the legal definition of gender in federal programs — specifically health care and education — was loosened. Instead, gender was of the individual’s choosing and not determined at birth. The policies were applauded by the LGBT community and many advocates. But conservatives, especially evangelical Christians, expressed their outrage in the form of restrictive and harmful state-level laws.

Roger Severino, who serves as the new director of the Office for Civil Rights at the DHHS, had previously served as the head of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation when the Obama administration expanded sex to include gender identity. Severino had written several anti-trans rights pieces for the Daily Signal.

This is the latest attack against transgender citizens launched by the Trump administration. He once proclaimed himself a friend to the LGBT community while on the campaign trail. But months after taking office, he sent out a Tweet stating that transgender members of the military would no longer be able to serve their country. The Department of Health and Human Services is leading this latest anti-trans move. It is seeking a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that are government funded.

In the leaked memo, the department said that key government agencies needed to adopt the definition of gender as determined “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective, and administrable.” The agency would define sex as male or female, making it unchangeable, and determined solely by the genitalia a person is born with. If that person wanted to dispute this, genetic testing would be used. If this goes into effect, it would erase federal recognition of roughly 1.4 million Americans who recognize themselves — either through surgery or identity — as a gender other than what was established at birth.

“This is an attack on the very lives and existence of transgender people,” James Esseks, director of the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project said in a statement. “It is painful, it is hateful, and it will not go unchallenged. Transgender people have the right to not only exist, but to fully participate in public life.

Transgender people are real and transgender lives have meaning say Trump administration critics. If the Trump administration moves forward with these policies, they will once again be met with opposition in courts and in communities. “More and more courts are seeing that policies targeting transgender people have no place in the country.” The ACLU has vowed to fight back against any efforts to use transgender people as political pawns stating, “We will continue to seek full equality for transgender and non-binary people.”

J.L. Gaynor
Out In Jersey magazine contributor J.L. Gaynor spent eight years in the newsrooms of two major New Jersey papers. A Jersey girl through and through: born, raised, and educated in New Jersey. Jen now lives in Maryland and has two dogs she adores, and reads just about anything she can get her hands on.