A few weeks ago, a proposal to redefine gender slid through the cracks of the Trump administration and was leaked to the public. The administration has new ideas about what the Obama administration previously set in place, which was a loosening of the technical, legal concepts of gender in federal language and legislation. Trump threw this unexpected curveball into the mix of political debates just weeks before midterm elections. According to The New York Times, the administration is proposing defining gender as the “biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth.” For those who do not fall into the binary of male or female, genetic testing would be done.
Transgender people face discrimination, misunderstanding, and threats every single day. If this memo leaked by the Trump administration is confirmed, transgender people in this country would face even more barriers on an alarmingly heightened and dangerous level.
Title IX would be one of the laws that this memo profoundly affects. Due to the wide scope of the law, which applies to education, athletics, and more, a new gender-defining law that excludes transgender people would openly allow for the very discrimination that the law dismantles. Title IX in its entirety would have to be reinterpreted and sex discrimination could overwhelm schools funded by federal dollars.
The impacts of Trump’s potential proposal are immense. Transgender people, as well as children and parents of those who identify as transgender, are terrified by this proposal because they are already fighting an uphill battle for acceptance. Thinking that one’s entire existence as a citizen could be essentially erased by the government is more than a setback to acceptance; it is a direct challenge to one’s humanity. Beyond this, nearly every aspect of daily life could be affected; locker rooms, bathrooms, sports teams, and medical care, to name just a few. Trump’s proposal would ban transgender people’s access to simple necessities; getting a driver’s license or passport, going to the doctor for a check-up, getting food stamps, or even renting an apartment.
Trump’s proposal to define gender as a strict binary was released suspiciously close to the midterm elections. This election decided which political party gains control of Congress. Despite the uprising of confusion and fear, one thing is certain from the leak: Trump wanted to make his personal political message undoubtedly clear to voters. As part of a democratic nation, we as citizens have the power to voice our own personal political message as well; we did it in the voting booths on November 6th and we will continue to do it going forward.
COVER PHOTO: Carolyn Ellis