WASHINGTON — The New York Times reported on Sunday that the Trump administration is considering defining gender as biological condition determined by genitalia at birth. This is the latest move by the administration against the LGBTQ community and at the transgender community specifically.
From the New York Times:
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.
Now the Department of Health and Human Services is spearheading an effort to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times.
The department argued in its memo that key government agencies needed to adopt an explicit and uniform definition of gender as determined “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.” The agency’s proposed definition would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with, according to a draft reviewed by The Times. Any dispute about one’s sex would have to be clarified using genetic testing.
This could mean that any federal recognition of transgender people and issues could be stopped. This is on top of the proposed ban of transgender people in the military and agencies pulling back on Obama era policies that gave protection to the community.
More from the Times:
Roger Severino, the director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services, declined to answer detailed questions about the memo or his role in interagency discussions about how to revise the definition of sex under Title IX.
But officials at the Department of Health and Human Services confirmed that their push to limit the definition of sex for the purpose of federal civil rights laws resulted from their own reading of the laws and from a court decision.
Mr. Severino, while serving as the head of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation, was among the conservatives who blanched at the Obama administration’s expansion of sex to include gender identity, which he called “radical gender ideology.”
The Human Rights Campaign protest and denounced the potential change on their website.
“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 HRC 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.”
The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) announced a protest at the White House on Monday and objected to the potential policy.
“This proposal is an attempt to put heartless restraints on the lives of 2 million people, effectively abandoning our right to equal access to health care, to housing, to education, or to fair treatment under the law,’ the organization said on their Facebook page. ‘This administration is willing to disregard the established medical and legal view of our rights and ourselves to solidify an archaic, dogmatic, and frightening view of the world. This transparent political attack will not succeed administratively, legally, or morally.”
The NTCE also said that the policy would not change precedents set by federal courts in recent years or the stances of medical providers who do support the transgender community.
The Times reported that the Health and Human Services department is planning to formally present the new definition to the Justice Department before the end of the year. If Justice accepts it, then the definition can be approved and enforced in all federal agencies.