Trump’s administration is reportedly planning to strip trans people of official recognition.
According to a memo obtained by the New York Times, the US Department of Health and Human Services have argued that gender should be defined as a “biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth”.
It comes as part of an effort to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans discrimination on the basis of sex. The proposal would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by an individual’s genitals at 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,” the memo reportedly says.
If implemented, the new definition would roll back Obama-era policies that largely allowed people to choose how they identify, rather than be determined by the sex assigned to them at birth.
The National Centre for Transgender Equality called the proposal a “heartless attack” on the trans community, and launched the hashtag #WontBeErased on Twitter to encourage trans people and their allies to speak up against the change.
We're not going anywhere – transgender people can't be erased with a memo. Post a selfie. Call a friend. Attend our rally tomorrow. Everything to show them that we #WontBeErased pic.twitter.com/8ipiey6uzM
— National Center for Transgender Equality (@TransEquality) October 21, 2018
Human rights activists have voiced concerns that the move could dramatically reduce legal rights and recognition for trans and non-binary individuals. There are an estimated 1.4 million Americans who do not identify with their birth gender.
“Setting a destructive precedent, the Trump-Pence administration intends to erase LGBTQ people from federal civil rights protections and eviscerate enforcement of non-discrimination laws,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin.
“Defining ‘sex’ in this narrow language tailored to the talking points of anti-equality extremists is part of a deliberate strategy to eliminate federal protections for LGBTQ people.
“This is a direct attack on the fundamental equality of LGBTQ people and, if this administration refuses to reverse course, Congress must immediately take action by advancing the Equality Act to ensure that LGBTQ people are explicitly protected by our nation’s civil rights laws.”
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) October 21, 2018
Laverne Cox, trans activist and star of Orange Is The New Black, took to social media to blast the Trump administration, labelling the move “another example of the brutality of colonialism” and encouraging followers to support anti-discrimination laws.
“This latest administration effort to legislate trans folks out of existence is yet another example of why the fight for gender equity must be intersectional and necessarily must include trans folks,” she wrote.
“Trans folks need everyone to stand with us in this fight, to let our government know this is not who we are.”
We must not give up the fight. But in the face of this affront on my existence and the existence of my community I choose love not fear. We exist and always have.
Trump Administration Eyes Defining Transgender Out of Existence https://t.co/G4rKB1mVfe
— Laverne Cox (@Lavernecox) October 21, 2018
On Sunday night, New York City activist group Voices4 and Lambda Legal held a rally in Washington Square Park to support the trans and gender non-conforming community.
“There is a spiritual war. It attacks our hearts, our souls and most importantly our bodies,” said Pose star Indya Moore. “It’s never okay for the fundamental rights of human beings to be up for debate.”
Also at the protest was Carmen Carrera, trans model and former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant, who said: “I am so proud of my trans sisters and brothers who have not let this fight break their spirit. That takes true resiliency.”