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2018-0CT: Trump Administration is
to End Recognition of Every
Transgender Person in the U.S.
Promises by Donald Trump:
- THEN, as a Republican candidate for U.S. president: "I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens." : 6 (LGBTQ refers to lesbians, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning)
- 2018-OCT-22, as President: An exchange between an unidentified reporter and President Trump:
Q What about your promise to protect transgender Americans? Are you giving up on that?
THE PRESIDENT: We’re looking at it. We have a lot of different concepts right now. They have a lot of different things happening with respect to transgender right now. You know that as well as I do. And we’re looking at it very seriously.
Q But what about your promise to protect the LGBTQ community?
THE PRESIDENT: I’m protecting everybody.
Q Transgender Americans say you’ve given up on them.
THE PRESIDENT: You know what I’m doing? I’m protecting everybody. I want to protect our country.
There have been two major developments in the U.S. during recent years concerning human sexuality:
- The U.S. Supreme Court's 2015 decision legalized same-sex marriage across the entire U.S., except for the territory of American Samoa.
- Approval of same-sex marriages by U.S. adults has been steadily increasing for decades, and is now approaching 70%.
Largely as a result of these developments, the main focus of discrimination by many religious and social conservatives -- and their advocacy groups -- has switched from opposing equal rights for lesbians, gays and bisexuals to opposing equal rights for transgender persons.
A transgender person identifies their current gender as different from the gender recorded on their birth certificate. About 99.4% of human adults are referred to as being "cisgender." They are not transgender; they identify their current gender as unchanged from their birth-identified gender.
Consisting of a group of about 0.6% of all adults, transgender persons are thus a small minority. Further, they are identified by their sexuality. These two factors makes them prime candidates for fear, hatred, victimization by active discrimination.
Since his inauguration, President Trump's administration has repeatedly attacked transgender persons. The administration has either reversed or attempted to reverse laws regarding transgender persons, including:
- An Obama era policy to allow transgender persons to join the U.S. military,
- A law that allowed transgender prison inmates to use facilities that match their gender identity,
- A policy allowing transgender students use those school bathrooms that matched their gender identities.
Also, attorney General Jeff Sessions has sent a memo stating that civil rights laws don’t protect transgender people from sexual discrimination on the job.
2018-OCT: A new attack: Defining transgender persons out of existence:
During 2018-OCT, President Trump's administration has started a new initiative: to totally eliminate government recognition of the transgender concept. That is, the government will define every person's current gender as unchanged from their birth-identified gender:
- Male to Female transgender persons (MTF), who were identified as male at birth but who now regard themselves as female, will be considered male;
- Similarly, Female to Male transgender persons (FTM) will be considered female;
- "Nonbinary" transgender persons who now identify themselves as being neither male nor female, or being intermediate between male and female, or as switching between male and female will be considered to be of the gender that they were assigned to them at birth.
- The gender of some intersexual persons, whose birth-gender was not obvious, will be determined by analyzing the sex chromosomes in their DNA.
- Disputed cases will be resolved through DNA testing.
A brief overview about being transgender:
The term "sexual dimorphism" refers to differences between females and males of the same species. Among humans, these differences generally include:
- Different external sexual structures in the genital region. The attending physician at childbirth typically assigns a gender to the newborn based on the appearance of these structures.
- The presence of a "Y" sex chromosome in the DNA of males compared with a lack of "Y" chromosome in females. Detecting this requires a DNA test.
- Sexual dimorphism also extends to a person's brain. A recently discovered difference between female and male brains was described by Robert M. Sapolsky in The Wall Street Journal.
Scientists found differences in:
"... an obscure brain region called the forceps minor (part of the corpus callosum, a mass of fibers that connect the brain's two hemispheres). On average, among nontranssexuals, the forceps minor of males contains parallel nerve fibers of higher density than in females." 2
During the 1990s, scientists started to examine the brains of transsexuals. They found that:
- female-to-male (FTM) transsexuals did not have the forceps minor nerve fiber density of females -- the sex that they were identified as being at birth. Rather the density matched that of males -- the sex that they identify as having during adulthood. This observation supports the commonly expressed statement by FTM transsexuals that they have a male brain in a female body. The statement appears to be literally true.
- The hypothalamus, is a part of the brain that produces hormones.
- In cisgender men, this part of the brain is excited by the scent of estrogen.
- The same part of the brain in cisgender women is excited by the scent of androgen.
- MTF transsexuals, who were identified as male at birth were found to follow the same response as cisgender women by being excited by androgen.
Thus, there is hard evidence that MTF transsexuals actually have a female brain in a male body, and vice versa. 2
The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued an updated edition of its International Classification of Diseases [ICD]. Gender Incongruence -- that is, being transgender, is now described as:
"... characterized by a marked and persistent incongruence between an individual’s experienced gender and ... [their birth] assigned sex.
Dr. Jennifer Conti, a fellow at Physicians for Reproductive Health described a male to female (MTF) transgender individual as:
"... a person who was born with a penis and is biologically male but identifies as female. ... We’ve historically misclassified a lot of conditions in medicine because of a combination of stigma, fear and misunderstanding. ..."
"By changing the class of this condition, the WHO is effectively saying to everyone and to the world that this is not a mental disorder and we support people who are transgender. It’s a really meaningful step because it promotes inclusivity; it promotes acceptance."
The WHO has now reclassified being transgender as a "sexual health condition." 3
A briefer overview of transgender persons according to many religious and social conservatives:
Most view transgender persons as being "gender confused." For example, a MTF transgender person was identified as male at birth, is still male, but is currently confused about their gender. When the Bible was written, its authors knew nothing about X and Y sex chromosomes, brain structures, etc. They defined gender solely according to a person's external sexual organs. Many religious and social conservatives today believe that the Bible is inerrant. Thus, they follow the same definitions. They regard transgender individuals as being -- at a minimum -- gender confused, and perhaps mentally ill.
Whatever President Trump's actual belief is, his prime directive is to be re-elected. Thus, actively discriminating against transgender persons can be expected to increase his political support among his base, which has a large contingent of religious and social conservatives.
2018-OCT-21: The Trump Administration's plan to eliminate recognition of transgender persons:
Mythili Sampathkumar, writing for The Independent newspaper in the UK said that the:
"... Trump administration is considering revoking civil rights protections for transgender people and requiring Americans to identify as the gender listed on their birth certificates.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) outlined the proposed policy in a memo which stated gender would be determined by a “biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective, and administrable." 1
Erica L. Green et al., writing for the New York Times, said:
"The Trump administration is considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth, the most drastic move yet in a government wide effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law."
Before President Trump's inauguration, President Obama's administration had modified Title IX: the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education and health care programs that receive government financial assistance. Green wrote:
"A series of decisions [affecting the Title IX 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."
A Trump Administration memo circulating since last spring says, in part:
"Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth. 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."
"Genetic evidence" presumably refers to an analysis of a person's DNA.
Catherine E. Lhamon, who led the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights in the Obama administration has said:
"This takes a position that what the medical community understands about their patients -- [and] what people understand about themselves -- is irrelevant because the government disagrees."
She also said that the proposed definition:
"... quite simply negates the humanity of people. 4
Sarah Warbelow, the legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, said:
"Transgender people are frightened. At every step where the administration has had the choice, they’ve opted to turn their back on transgender people." 4
Harper Jean Tobin, the policy director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, referred to the memo wording as:
"... an extremely aggressive legal position that is inconsistent with dozens of federal court decisions."
A coalition of civil rights groups has sent a memo to the Trump administration, saying:
"The overwhelming majority of courts to address the question since the most relevant Supreme Court precedent in 1998 have held that antitransgender bias constitutes sex discrimination under federal laws like Title IX." 4
Over a dozen activist LGBT leaders met at a news conference to discuss the circulating rumors. Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Rights said:
"I feel very threatened, but I am absolutely resolute. We will stand up and be resilient, and we will be here long after this administration is in the trash heap."
A rally was held outside the White House. Demonstrators held up signs reading "#Won’tBeErased."
2018-OCT-24: The Department of of Justice delivers brief to the U.S. Supreme Court:
Previously, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had sued on behalf of Aimee Stephens, a transgender employee. She had been fired from her job at a funeral home in Michigan when she said that she was transitioning, apparently from male to female. Her supervisor allegedly said that he would be "violating God's commands" if he let her continue to work for the home as a transgender person. The case is R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v EEOC & Aimee Stephens. Stephens's case is based on the claim that the home has violatied federal employment laws regarding gender. They won at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals who ruled that her case involved sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The court concluded that transgender discrimination is necessarily sex discrimination, since firing a person for transitioning is firing them for not following gender stereotypes. The funeral home has appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Solicitor General Noel Francisco of the federal Justice Department filed a brief in the case. He argued that federal civil rights law does not apply to transgender employees. Aimee was identified at birth as male. Further, under recently adopted rules by the Trump Administration, a person's gender is permanently defined by the genitals that they had at birth, and cannot be changed. Thus, she is considered a male from birth to the present time. Since she was not fired for being male, then sex discrimination is not a valid claim. 8 Francisco wrote:
"The [Sixth Circuit] Court of Appeals misread the statute and this Court’s decisions in concluding that Title VII encompasses discrimination on the basis of gender identity."
2018-NOV-01: Reactions to President Trump's plan to eliminate federal government recognition of transgender persons:
David Reddish, writing for Queerty, said:
- More than 50 major companies including Adobe, Airbnb, Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, Bank of America, Ben & Jerrys, Cisco, Coca Cola, Corning, Dow, E. I. du Pont, Facebook, Google, IBM, J.P. Morgan, MGM Resorts, Microsoft, Nike, Pepsi, Royal Bank of Canada, Twitter, etc. have all issued rebukes to the Trump administration’s planned assault on transgender rights.
- Pro-transgender protests have erupted across the nation.
- Suicide hotlines have reported a dramatic spike in transgender people fighting urges for self-harm.
- Celebrities, including Laverne Cox, have attacked the policy.
Trans Lifeline operates a crisis/distress/suicide prevention hotline for transgender individuals. Their call volume increased by more than four times during the week after the administration's announcement. Their executive director said:
"Since the HHS memo was leaked, the number of calls to our crisis hotline has more than quadrupled, doubling the number of new callers who have never needed to access our services before. This is bad news, but it isn’t new news.
Playing politics with civil rights of a vulnerable population has consequences. But moments like this are exactly why Trans Lifeline exists." 10
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Mythili Sampathkumar, "Trump administration considers elimination of transgender recognition," The Independent, 2018-OCT-21, at: https://www.independent.co.uk/
- Robert M. Sapolsky, "Caught Between Male and Female," The Wall Street Journal, 2013-DEC-06, at: http://www.wsj.com/
- Tessa Vikander, "WHO move to reclassify transgender identity will reduce stigma and increase access to health care, B.C. advocates say," The Star/Vancouver, 2018-JUL-04, at: https://www.thestar.com/
- Erica Green, et al., " 'Transgender' Could Be Defined Out of Existence Under Trump Administration," New York Times, 2018-OCT-21, at: https://www.nytimes.com/
- Eric Levenson, "All the ways the Trump administration has rolled back protections for transgender people," CNN Politics, 2018-OCT-22, at: https://www.cnn.com/
- DressedBread, "Donald Trump struggles to pronounce LGBT correctly," You Tube, 2016-AUG-30, at: https://www.youtube.com/
- "Remarks by President Trump Before Marine One Departure,"
The White House, 2018-OCT-22, at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/
- Emily C. Singer, "Justice Department argues businesses can legally discriminate against transgender employees," Mic Network, 2018-OCT-25, at: https://mic.com/
- David Reddish, "Amazon, Nike & more than 50 major companies fight back against Trump’s anti-transgender policies," Queerty, 2018-NOV-01, at: https://www.queerty.com/
- Alex Bollinger, "Suicide hotline calls quadrupled after Trump’s latest attack on transgender people," LGBTQ Nation, 2018-OCT-29, at: https://www.lgbtqnation.com/
How you may have arrived here:
Copyright © Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Author: B.A. Robinson
Originally posted on: 2018-OCT-23
Latest update: 2018-NOV-01.