Katie Hèbert, Staff Writer |
The Trump administration announced on October 21 that they plan to redefine the concept of gender, which many are worried is an attempt to erase the existence of the transgender community.
Gender is defined as the range of characteristics associated with men and women, and the masculine and feminine attributes assigned to them by society. It differs from sex, which is defined as the identification of the biological/physical anatomy, which tends to be most categorized as male or female. (It is important to know that our society defines gender and sex within binaries, as it often marks folks as being either one or the other, while there are people who are intersex and people whose gender identity may not fit either masculine or feminine). Those who agree with the gender they were assigned at birth are cisgender, while being transgender means that the gender one identities as is different to what they were assigned at birth.
The Obama administration was open in support of the LGBTQ+ community, which we saw with the federal law that legalized marriage equality in 2015. The Obama administration had also recognized that gender is something one defines for themselves, and there have been many human rights protections for those identifying as transgender, in which any discrimination violates those rights and protections.
The Department of Health and Human Services is working behind Trump in this mission of redefining gender, and they wrote what the new definition would be. “Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth. 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.” They continued with writing, “gender [would be defined] on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable. Any dispute of gender would be judged through genetics testing.” As written by the queer magazine, them., “this directive would effectively erase civil rights protections for transgender people and require anyone wishing to change the assigned gender on their birth certificate to undergo genetic testing.” Those who have transitioned into their gender identity on legal documents and such would have their recognition revoked.
Right after this memo, all references and resources for transgender folks were scrubbed from federal websites. Soon after being elected as President in 2016, Trump also erased the LGBTQ+ webpage from federal websites as well.
While Trump’s discrimination towards the LGBTQ+ community, specifically trans folks, is not something new, this new act of redefining gender would greatly harm those who identify under the transgender umbrella and would reverse any steps that have been taken to prevent harm targeted towards transgender people such as eliminating protections that were established in accordiance to Title IV. This act would also block certain health access to transgender people, regarding general health, transitioning resources, etc. Whether or not it does pass, we see how Trump’s violent rhetoric of marginalized groups has stirred vocal violence nationwide against people of color, immigrants, people of non-christian faith, the LGBTQ+ community, and more.
So, what can we do? In our spheres, advocate for trans folks. Respect people’s pronouns and don’t assume someone’s pronouns. Call your senators. If eligible, go vote. Dismantle the idea that inanimate things, such as makeup and clothing, are gendered. Educate yourself on LGBTQ+ histories. Create space for trans folks’ voices to be heard. Listen and support your trans friends. This is not something new, and people of the trans communities are harrassed, targeted, and discriminated against in many facets of American society, and as of 2018, there are 22 reported deaths of trans people, harmed specifically because of their gender identity and expression. Trans identity and existence is not one that is up for debate. Trans folks are, valid, and deserve their space in this world to live freely. The Trans community is in need of support.
Gender and Sexuality Resource Center – Hunt Union 5A 607-436-2190
Gender Wellness Center – FoxCare Center, Suite 103 5432 State Highway 7 (607) 431-5757
Otsego Pride Alliance – [email protected]
Trans Lifeline’s Peer Support Hotline – 877 565 8860