In a memo obtained by the New York Times, the Trump administration is considering changing the definition of gender and sex to center on a person’s biological sex at birth under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in any education program that receives federal financial assistance.
In the memo released, the Department of Health and Human Services proposed government agencies to determine gender based “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.”
According to the New York Times, the federal agency under President Donald Trump wants gender to be defined as either male or female and that any dispute over a person’s gender would be handled with genetic testing.
These proposed guidelines could dismantle Obama-era civil rights protections for people that don’t fit binary gender categories. The New York Times article sparked protests on the ground and online, with #WontBeErased trending on Twitter. This is the second move by the current administration to limit the rights of transgender people, with the first being the move to ban then limit the ability of trans people to serve in the military.
Zach Tarble, president of the North Dakota State Pride Alliance, said Trump is “clearly not” representing trans people. “I don’t think any of us were expecting (Donald Trump) to be a good guy.”
“I don’t think any of us were expecting (Donald Trump) to be a good guy” – Zach Tarble
When it comes to public opinion, Krista Paulus, vice president of the NDSU Pride Alliance, said, “Now that we have someone in office that’s so against it or even hints that he’s against it by pushing for all these laws, that people who didn’t think they could speak before, I feel are coming out, and I feel like they’re blatantly showing their distaste for the community.”
Tarble said when there is such a stark contrast between what the administration is doing and the progress that has been made, it brings light to the situation at hand.
The recent memo release is only part of a decade-long debate over how to categorize and treat people that don’t fit gender norms. In 2016, North Carolina passed laws restricting people to use the bathroom that matches their birth sex and the debate has not ended.
Paulus said trans rights are about “getting a choice of who you actually are instead of what people want you to be.”
1.4 million people in America recognize themselves as non-binary or transgender. The American Psychological Association (APA) and the American Sociological Association (ASA) also recognizes that gender and sex are not one in the same. The APA said people could have different gender identity and gender expression. The ASA also said that, like gender, people could have varying sexuality as in the case of intersexuality.