Transgender rights are human rights. Full stop. Transgender people are human beings. Full stop. These things are non-negotiable.
Unfortunately, the people who are leading this country, people who represent literally the worst of America (hateful, racist, sexist, uninterested, anti-science, spiteful, petty, violent — the list goes on and on) are in charge of every branch of the federal government right now. And the people defining the rules want to undefine transgender people.
Granted, that is not how language works. You can’t say, “Oh, this means something different now” and said thing ceases to exist. For example, if the federal government wanted to declare that the term “Halloween candy” only refers to candy corn, that doesn’t mean Resse’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins no longer exist. It does mean, however, that any statutes that protect Halloween candy from discrimination would only protect candy corn, all other candies are damned.
So when I say the Trump administration wants to define trans folks out of existence, that’s not technically true. Because trans people will still exist as always.
According to The New York Times, “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.”
Of course, this is not surprising considering how vocally anti-trans Trump has been. Remember when he Tweeted that trans troops were no longer welcome to serve in the military? Republicans across the country have followed in similar hostility, feverishly crafting legislation to keep transgenders from using public restrooms.
“The Department of Health and Human Services is spearheading an effort to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX,” the Times continued. “The federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance.”
Remember when Obama, a decent man with a moral compass, was president, the “legal concept” of gender was “loosened.”
According to the Times, “recognizing gender largely as an individual’s choice and not determined by the sex assigned at birth.”
It helped transgender and gender non-conforming folks secure some much-needed protections. Much needed because transgender people are highly vulnerable people in society. They are the object of ridicule, scorn, hate, and violence.
“The new definition would essentially eradicate federal recognition of the estimated 1.4 million Americans who have opted to recognize themselves — surgically or otherwise — as a gender other than the one they were born into,” the Times continued.
So if the Trump administration does this, trans people will be stripped of any protections because they are no longer included in the definition of gender. Poof. Trans folks fall into a semantic abyss.
Only the genitals you’re born with and the sex assigned at birth would “count.” As the Times reported, “Any dispute about one’s sex would have to be clarified using genetic testing.”
What a travesty. For one thing, it also erases intersex people who are born with ambiguous genitalia. Not to mention the fact that chromosomes don’t necessarily correspond with what’s between your legs.
The Trump administration is basically calling for a penis/vagina registry.
There has been a backlash against the Trump administration’s plan. “We must not give up the fight,” tweeted Orange is the New Black actress Laverne Cox. “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.”
Cox continued, “Trans people have been under attack by this administration from day one and in state legislatures for years now. Let’s join together American and assert #TransRightsAreHumanRights.”
So yes, as Cox advises, choose love, not fear. But make sure the thing you love the most is voting because to turn back the tide of hate is to vote the haters out of office.
D’Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer, and comedian living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.