Trump threatens transgender rights

The Trump administration is attempting to change the definition of gender, which could affect transgender peoples’ rights and protections. 

According to a story reported in the New York Times on Oct. 21, a leaked memo states that the Trump administration is trying to change the definition of gender to, “a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth,” which would undermine protections for transgender people that were put in place during the Obama administration. 

The American medical community, despite this attempted law, recognizes a distinction between sex and gender and has called for legal protections for those who don’t fit so squarely into man or woman. No single aspect of sex or gender defines a person’s gender identity (their internal sense of gender, which may not match what they were assigned at birth.)

If this law is passed, transgender people will lose protections in schools, protections during employment and access to health care needed for transitions. 

To lose protection in schools is to lose the right to be treated fairly. It protects students against gender discrimination and was expanded to include transgender students in 2014. Without it, public schools will be able to misgender their students, and it will be much harder for transgender students to come out and present themselves the way they would like. 

Protections during employment means no discrimination. Without it, employers would have the ability to deny somebody a job purely because they’re transgender and they will not be able to bring them to court for it.

Lastly, transgender people would lose access to healthcare needed for transitions. Already, for many people, the process of transitioning with the help of insurance is a hard and painstaking process that could take years. If this law is passed, it would make the process even worse and may make it feel near impossible to even try. 

One month into his presidency, Trump’s administration rescinded the Obama-era education department guidance that lets students use facilities and pronouns consistent with their gender identity.

During  October 2017, guidance protecting transgender workers from employment discrimination was reversed. After that, Trump tried to ban transgender military troops. Civil rights groups state that while the new attempted law was expected to happen, they didn’t expect it to be this harsh.

Civil rights groups have also stated that, thankfully, this law won’t change state and local laws forbidding discrimination against transgender people. It also cannot undo decades of case law protecting transgender people through bans on sex discrimination and sex stereotyping. 

However, there will be a ripple effect. If this law is passed, it’ll send a signal to the world that Trump doesn’t recognize transgender people as a group that should be defended from discrimination.

This attempted law change is adding to the proof that the Trump administration wants to change section 1557, which forbids discrimination in health care programs and activities that receive federal funds. It also prevents insurance companies from selling policies that completely exclude gender-affirming treatment from coverage.

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