Trans people in the United Sates have responded to the Trump threat to tighten the definition of gender as revealed by the New York Times with a resounding: “WE WON’T BE ERASED”.
It was reported that the Trump administration is considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth, the most drastic move yet in a government wide effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law.
A series of decisions by the Obama administration loosened the legal concept of gender in federal programs, including in education and health care, recognizing gender largely as an individual’s choice and not determined by the sex assigned at birth. The policy prompted fights over bathrooms, dormitories, single-sex programs and other arenas where gender was once seen as a simple concept. Conservatives, especially evangelical Christians, were incensed.
The move would be the most significant of a series of maneuvers, large and small, to exclude the population from civil rights protections and roll back the Obama administration’s more fluid recognition of gender identity. The Trump administration has sought to bar transgender people from serving in the military and has legally challenged civil rights protections for the group embedded in the nation’s health care law.
Transgender Law Center executive director Kris Hayashi issued the following statement:
“Because of brave people like Ash Whitaker and Gavin Grimm and so many others, transgender and gender nonconforming communities have achieved wins in the courts. Through key victories like Whitaker v. Kenosha Unified School District and Macy v. Holder, courts and government agencies have made clear that transgender and gender nonconforming people are protected from discrimination under federal civil rights laws and the U.S. Constitution.
The draft memo the NYT reported on this weekend, a document written by officials at HHS, is transparently a hate-motivated response to these victories. It attempts to rewrite years of progress achieved by advocates under the Obama administration. Here, written out plain, is their attempt to erase our very existence as transgender people. This memo reveals that this administration intends nothing short of our destruction.
To be clear: nothing this administration can do will undermine the scores of federal courts that have recognized our humanity and hundreds of state and local legal protections we’ve already won.
We know now that the administration intends to ignore the preponderance of law, science and evidence on gender identity to empower hate and rollback access to healthcare and to make schools less safe for transgender and gender nonconforming youth. Transgender Law Center will fight this as we’ve fought all of the attacks by this administration, and the many attacks that came before the current administration. In community, we will organize and protect each other through our joint campaign with National Center for Transgender Equality, #ProtectTransHealth, as well as by working with local leaders in states that have faced or are facing anti-trans ballot measures and successfully defeated these attempts. Whether the fight takes us to the courts, to the ballot box, or to the streets, we will continue to fight for a country in which all of us enjoy dignity and respect.
This summer, we marched in honor of Roxsana Hernandez, a transgender woman and asylum seeker from Honduras who died in ICE detention. In the past few weeks, we have mourned the deaths of Black trans women. We are a community under attack, but we are not silent and we won’t be erased.”
The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC)released the following statement from David J. Johns, Executive Director, in rebuke and to explain what is at stake for our families with the Trump administration’s plan to dehumanize transgender people:
“The character and nature of the current regime in power in Washington is now even more transparent with credible reports that they are planning to rollback critical civil rights protections for transgender and gender non-binary Americans.
“This latest move is discriminatory and a huge setback for the progress we made under the Obama Administration when our country’s leadership recognized the dignity of and need to protect the rights of all people — not only in rhetoric, but also in practice, specifically with respect to equal protection under the law.
“Nefarious plans to define gender, in civil rights statute and throughout the federal government, as based solely on a person’s birth certificate or external genitalia, is pure evil, without medical or scientific grounding and an attack on the humanity of transgender and gender non-binary people everywhere.
“Our nation cannot afford to sit back and allow toxic leadership in Washington to engage in political warfare by advancing a sick ideological agenda that includes legal dehumanization of and discrimination against the most marginalized members of our community. This is a political play to make gains right before the midterm election.
“Make no mistakes about this action and its implications. Sister Angela Davis reminded us some time ago ‘if they come for me in the morning, they will come for you at night.’ We should be clear when our transgender family is under attack, we are all under attack. No one’s humanity should be debated or denied in a democracy, this is not America.”
DIRECT IMPACTS. According to the plans reported this weekend, the new Trump administration actions would:
Define gender as a “biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth” in order to overturn Obama-era laws and directives that recognized and protected transgender people under federal civil rights law.
Apply the new definition to Title IX, the landmark federal civil rights law that prohibits gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance. This would also be applied to other federal law like the Affordable Care Act which currently prohibits discrimination in health care settings based on gender identity.
Advance the Sessions-led Justice Department’s prerogative to provide legal backing throughout the federal government to only recognize the narrow and discriminatory definition of gender based on one’s birth certificate and genitalia at birth as the law of the land.
Impact young people most in all of the nation’s schools as Title IX and the definition of gender are currently being debated in several cases throughout the federal courts. This move to create one definition of gender throughout the federal government, among many things, is meant to influence upcoming court decisions in favor of this narrow definition of gender when applied to sex discrimination.
“I cannot overstate how grossly out of touch these current actions are, especially when our nation continues to experience an epidemic of violence towards transgender and gender non-binary people,” Johns continued.
“This year we have already seen at least 22 reports of transgender people fatally shot or killed by other violent means followed by painful, incompetent investigations that often misgendered these victims. Of the 22 transgender people whose murders have been reported, at least 16 of those individuals were Black. In the state of Florida alone, an alarming total of 5 Black transgender women have been reported murdered. In the face of all these tragedies directly impacting our transgender family, we now have the federal government moving towards the total erasure of them in our nation’s law. We demand better as a nation and must take action by making our voices heard and voting in leadership on all levels of government that will stand up for equality and inclusivity. We must vote for representation that believes and moves to advance justice for all people.”
Melanie Nathan: African Human Rights Coalition stands in solidarity with the trans community in the United States, as we oppose the threat by Donald J. Trump to rob trans Americans of their rights under the law. As advocates for all members of the global LGBTQ community, we will continue in unity, to promote awareness, love and equality for our trans brothers and sisters. We will also pledge to join and fight any attack by the Trump administration, in all regards and with vigor and a continued focus on trans asylum seekers and refugees. #WeWontBeErased @AfricanHRC
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