WASHINGTON, D.C.—Adult industry members and fans may not know this, but for the conservative religious people that currently control the federal (and several states') government, there is no such thing as a "transgender person." Yes, the tiny brains that are currently making policy for what used to be the world's bulwark of democracy can only see gender as a black-and-white—or, more accurately, male-and-female—issue. And now the Criminal In Chief wants to officially define gender exactly that way, based solely on what genitalia a person was born with. Got a penis? You're male. Got a vagina? You're female. That's it!
"Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth," the Department of Health and Human Services proposed in a memo, which was drafted and has been circulating since last spring, and was recently obtained by The New York Times. "The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence. ... After more than a year of discussions, Health and Human Services is preparing to formally present the new definition to the Justice Department before the end of the year, Trump administration officials say.
"The Department of Health and Human Services has called on the 'Big Four' agencies that enforce some part of Title IX—the Departments of Education, Justice, Health and Human Services, and Labor—to adopt its definition in regulations that will establish uniformity in the government and increase the likelihood that courts will accept it."
Such a policy statement echoes what millions of religious conservatives have long believed. Whether it's Target Department Stores' policy of allowing people to use whichever restroom matches their self-defined gender, or a similar non-discrimination policy in Charlotte, North Carolina (which was overturned when the state legislature passed HB2), to an Anchorage, Alaska, religious homeless women's shelter being sued to force it to provide beds for transgender applicants, conservative religious "news" sites invariably describe transgender women as "men" and transgender men as "women"—and spend thousands of words touting the "dangers" that trans people pose when allowed to use facilities like bathrooms and dressing rooms reserved, they charge, for people with genital-defined gender roles. In fact, most have solicited donations to fight the transgender "menace."
"At a downtown homeless shelter, a man who goes by the name Samantha tried to enter the Hope Center, where the women sleep on the floor, inches apart," wrote Family Research Council (FRC) head Tony Perkins of the Anchorage dispute. "Two times, the shelter, a faith-based operation, turned him away. 'Many of the women who the Hope Center shelters have escaped the horrendous conditions of sexual exploitation and human trafficking. It would be wholly irresponsible and potentially dangerous for Hope Center to house biological males in its shelter overnight with the population of abused and battered women who stay at the shelter,' staffers said." [Emphasis added]
In fact, just today FRC published its defense of HHS's impending action, claiming that when Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, whose Title IX provides protections from discrimination on the basis of "sex," that Congress didn't mean transgenders—and they aren't too happy that courts have seen fit to include gays and lesbians in those protections either.
"In Sunday's piece, a trio of reporters argues that the Trump administration is disenfranchising people by defining gender as it always has been: a 'biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth'," Perkins claimed. "No one is quite sure how that's radical, since it's how the law has been understood both before and since 1964. Not a single president questioned it until Obama, who decided that he didn't care what the Civil Rights Act said. He was going to 'reinterpret' the 54-year-old law on 'sex' discrimination to mean 'sexual orientation' and gender identity too."
Yeah, as far as FRC is concerned, "sex" is binary and there ain't no two ways about it!
"Gender is not a social construct," wrote Southern Baptist "scholars" Adam Groza and Ben Arbour. "Rather, it is divinely instituted, and it's an essential aspect of personal identity. This doesn't mean things aren't complicated sometimes, because ... sin messed everything up. 'Everything,' unfortunately includes chromosomes, hormones, neuropathways and other biological aspects of humanity."
The proposed HHS redefinition is hardly the Trump administration's first attempt at gender discrimination. Back in March of 2018, Trump issued a directive to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis which stated that "transgender persons who require or have undergone gender transition are disqualified from military service," and according to a New York Times story, while "[t]ransgender troops who are currently in the United States military may remain in the ranks ... the Pentagon could require them to serve according to their gender at birth." The directive built on tweets Trump posted in July of 2017, one of which stated "the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military." While the transgender military ban has been walked back somewhat—trans soldiers are allowed to complete their service—the HHS memo is more aimed at taking away transgender rights in almost the entire public sphere.
Moreover, as noted by the blog ThinkProgress, "The Trump administration has already taken steps to roll back transgender protections in piecemeal ways. For example, the Department of Education rescinded its guidance protecting transgender students under Title IX and stopped hearing their discrimination complaints entirely, the Bureau of Prisons rescinded protections for transgender prisoners, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is working to undo transgender health care protections found in the Affordable Care Act, and the Department of Housing & Urban Development has delayed implementing homeless shelter protections for transgender people. The DOJ has already begun arguing that employment discrimination against transgender people should be legal... It’s not an exaggeration that this change would legally write transgender people out of existence as far as the federal government is concerned."
The right-leaning bigots like to describe transgenderism as "gender dysphoria," which is defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) V as "a conflict between a person’s physical or assigned gender and the gender with which he/she/they identify," but with few exceptions, transgender persons say they've known since childhood what gender they feel themselves to be, no matter what genitalia they were born with—and that realization only appears to be a "conflict" to those who don't accept the very concept of transgenderism.
"Transgender people are frightened," said Sarah Warbelow, the legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, which presses for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. "At every step where the administration has had the choice, they’ve opted to turn their back on transgender people."
The Times also noted that after its story was published yesterday, "transgender people took to social media to post photographs of themselves with the hashtag #WontBeErased."
Pictured: Aubrey Kate, whom the Trump administration considers to be "male." (Pictured in Aubrey Kate: TS Superstar; Evil Angel Films)