Trump administration’s plan to redefine gender will further persecute transgender people

Trump administration’s plan to redefine gender will further persecute transgender people

Trump administration’s plan to redefine gender will further persecute transgender people
October 25
00:24 2018

It was discovered earlier this week that the Trump administration intends to roll back Obama-era advancements in legislative protection of transgender people. In a memo obtained by the New York Times, the Department of Health and Human Services stated plans to establish a narrow, legal definition of sex, which will essentially make it legal to discriminate against people who do not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth.

Transgender people are neither a political concept nor do they belong to a partisan issue — they are human beings. Policymakers can’t legislate humans out of existence.

Let’s define some terms so everyone can understand the conversation around transgender rights and come to knowledgeable, constructive conclusions:

Cisgender people are people whose gender identity aligns with the gender they were assigned at birth. This means if you were born traditionally male and still identify as a man today, you are cisgender. Someone who is transgender does not identify with the gender they were designated at birth. For instance, someone dubbed a female when they were born may no longer identify as a woman in adulthood.

If this scheme is to be enacted, transgender people’s lives will become even more difficult. Public acceptance of the transgender population, which is already low, will decline even more.

In addition, the move would exclude transgender people from being protected under civil rights, mental health among the community would deteriorate, the already high suicide rate would increase and it would be even harder for transgender people to access health care.

The department’s memo states the definition of gender is to be determined “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.” Science has established gender is not binary, according to Science in the News by Harvard University. The Trump administration must be talking about a different kind of science.

Previously, the concept of gender was less restrictive and was largely seen as an individual choice. In February 2017 — just a few months into his presidency — Trump wasted no time rescinding the Obama-era protections for transgender students regarding bathroom usage.

Whether this plan is solely the result of Trump’s disdain for any decision reached under Obama is inconsequential, as the impact the decision will have is the same regardless of intent. It is not innocent — those with a say in this matter know what the outcome will be if gender is rigidly defined, and that is exactly why they are pushing it.

This is where allyship really counts. Marginalized groups can’t change policies on their own in a society that already oppresses them. The advantage cis people have over trans people should be employed in this circumstance to draw attention to the unmitigated inequality. Trans voices should be amplified, and everyone should listen.

Firmly defining something that has no use being defined will always make for trouble. A fact of life is that some things can’t (and won’t) be stuffed into simple boxes. Transgender people exist, whether some lawmakers want them to or not.

This is not one of those issues we can get up in arms about for a little while, grow tired of and move on. This is not an issue of Coke or Pepsi. This is a civil rights issue with real ramifications.

CORRECTION: This editorial has been updated due to an incorrect murder rate originally cited. Although evidence does support that trans people face violence more than cisgender people, we apologize for the statistical error.

Featured Illustration: Austin Banzon

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North Texas Daily

North Texas Daily

The North Texas Daily is the official student newspaper of the University of North Texas, proudly serving UNT and the Denton community since 1916.

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