2018-0CT-DEC: Trump Administration
to End Recognition of Every
Transgender Person in the U.S.
Reactions by 56 major U.S. companies.
Transgender distress/support/crisis lines.
Virginia teacher suspended.
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. A person's DNA contains sex chromosomes which may be type "X" or "Y." The presence of a "Y" chromosome indicates a male biological sex; its absence indicates a female biological sex.
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. 2
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." 2
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." 2
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 protect 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. 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. 3 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:
- Fourteen community organizations that promote LGBT equality joined together to collect negative reactions by major companies to President Trumps decision to define transgender persons out of existence. Their total revenue exceeds 2.4 trillion dollars. They jointly signed a joint statement that says:
"Business Statement for Transgender Equality
We, the undersigned businesses, stand with the millions of people in America who identify as transgender, gender non-binary, or intersex, and call for all such people to be treated with the respect and dignity everyone deserves.
We oppose any administrative and legislative efforts to erase transgender protections through reinterpretation of existing laws and regulations. We also fundamentally oppose any policy or regulation that violates the privacy rights of those that identify as transgender, gender non-binary, or intersex.
In the last two decades, dozens of federal courts have affirmed the rights and identities of transgender people. Cognizant of growing medical and scientific consensus, courts have recognized that policies that force people into a binary gender definition determined by birth anatomy fail to reflect the complex realities of gender identity and human biology.
Recognizing that diversity and inclusion are good for business, and that discrimination imposes enormous productivity costs (and exerts undue burdens), hundreds of companies, including the undersigned, have continued to expand inclusion for transgender people across corporate America. Currently more than 80 percent of the Fortune 500 have clear gender identity protections; two-thirds have transgender-inclusive healthcare coverage; hundreds have LGBTQ+ and Allies business resource groups and internal training efforts.
Transgender people are our beloved family members and friends, and our valued team members. What harms transgender people harms our companies.
We call for respect and transparency in policy-making, and for equality under the law for transgender people." 10
- 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, Intel, Intuiy, J.P. Morgan, Levi Strauss, Marriott, MGM Resorts, Microsoft, Nike, Pepsi, Royal Bank of Canada, Twitter, Uber, etc. have all issued rebukes to the Trump administration’s planned assault on transgender rights.
- Rea Carey, Executive Director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, said:
"Today businesses joined the chorus of voices in saying, trans people will not be erased. Not today -– not ever. The push for transgender equity and equality has stretched beyond us as advocates. It’s manifesting in the opinions and actions of ordinary, everyday people. And increasingly more and more business leaders are embracing a culture of inclusion and respect for trans and gender-nonconforming people. We thank those who’ve endorsed today’s Trans Equality Statement and urge other corporations to swiftly get on board."
- Elizabeth Wood, Chief Human Resources Officer of Levi Strauss & Co., said:
"Equality is not a right for some, but for all. Executive actions and laws that allow discrimination erode our ability to foster vibrant, competitive workforces, which halts growth, creativity, and innovation. Our workplaces and communities must be diverse and welcoming for all people, regardless of race, sex, national origin, ethnicity, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity." 9.10
- Pro-transgender protests erupted across the nation.
- Suicide hotlines have reported a dramatic spike in transgender people fighting urges for self-harm.
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."
- Celebrities, including Laverne Cox, have attacked the Trump Administration's policy.
Note to transgender persons about distress/support/crisis phone lines:
- If you live in the U.S., the Trans Lifeline can always be reached at: 1-877-565-8860 between 10 AM and 4 AM Eastern Time. It is sometimes available off-hours.
- If you live in Canada, the Trans Lifeline can be reached at: 1-877-330-6366. Counselling hours are subject to volunteer availability. English only.
- Their web site is at: https://www.translifeline.org/ Both lines are staffed by trained volunteers who are themselves transgender.
2018-DEC: VA: Teacher suspended, and later fired, for refusing to use a transgender student's preferred pronouns:
Peter Vlaming, 47, a high school French teacher in Virginia, was placed on administrative leave because of his treatment of a transgender student. The student was registered as a female at birth, but now identifies as male. Vlaming stated:
"I won't use male pronouns with a female student that now identifies as a male though I did agree to use the new masculine name ... [and] avoid female pronouns. ..."
"Administration is requiring that I use masculine pronouns in any and every context at school. I was informed that any further instances of using female pronouns would be grounds for termination."
The school board scheduled a public meeting to decide whether he should be fired.
An online petition asking that he not be fired received over 1,100 signatures.
One of his students said in an interview:
He's a really nice guy, he wanted to do everything about his students. He really does care about his students. The thing he will not do is change his ways of thoughts and believing in things just to conform to someone else's ideologies." 5
Vlaming told the school that his Christian faith prevented him from using the male pronouns -- he, him, his -- to refer to a student that was identified at birth as female and who now identifies as having a male gender.
The school recommended to the board that he be fired because he violated the non-discrimination and harassment policies of the school board. West Point schools' Superintendent, Laura Abel, said:
"That discrimination then leads to creating a hostile learning environment. And the student had expressed that. The parent had expressed that. They felt disrespected." 6
Vlaming’s attorney, Shawn Voyles, said:
"Tolerance is a two-way street. My client respects this student’s rights; he is simply asking that his rights be respected as well. ... The student is absolutely free to identify as the student pleases. The school board adopted one viewpoint and required Mr. Vlaming, at the cost of his job, to repeat that ideology, repeat that viewpoint. That’s where it’s compelled speech. That’s where it violates his First Amendment right [that] he still retains as a public employee." 7
Ewan Palmer, writing for Newsweek, said:
"The act of purposely referring to someone with their pretransition pronouns is known as misgendering and can be considered a form of hate crime." 6
The School Board voted unanimously -- 5 to 0 -- to fire the teacher.
Karina Bolster at WWBT-TV in Richmond, VA said:
" 'Miracles can happen, but I was prepared that this might be the outcome,' Vlaming said after the decision.
Students and community members lined the hallways of the school, some in support for Vlaming, others in support for the transgender student."
This is a lose-lose situation:
- If the teacher refuses to use male pronouns to refer to a student who regards himself as a male, then the student will feel disrespected and perhaps feel discriminated against and harrassed.
- If the teacher is required to use male pronouns that agrees with the student's gender identity, then his religious beliefs are being contradicted and disrespected.
2018-DEC-12: TFP Student Action defends Virginia teacher:
TFP Student Action is a Roman Catholic agency working on college campuses across the U.S. The "TFP" in their name refers to "Tradition, Family and Property." They have 75 full-time volunteers and 120,000 members. They raised a petition urging Mrs. Laura K. Abel, the
Superintendent of West Point Public Schools to rehire Peter Vlaming. It begins:
"To target children with the idea that a biological girl can become a boy is false, harmful and confusing. Therefore, I respectfully urge you to restore Mr. Peter Vlaming to his teaching position at West Point High School. He was unjustly fired for upholding biological truth." 8
In common with most religious conservatives, TFP Student Action promotes the belief that when a newborn is identified as a female or male at birth by the attending physicians, that this gender is fixed for the rest of her or his life. That is, a person's gender is permantly defined by their genital structures at birth. The student involved in the controversy is apparently a FTM transgender person: identified as female at birth, and who is now a teen high school student who identifies as male.
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/
- 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/
- Emily C. Singer, "Justice Department argues businesses can legally discriminate against transgender employees," Mic Network, 2018-OCT-25, at: https://mic.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/
- Sarah Curlee, "Virginia High School Teacher Faces Possible Termination after Declining to Use Transgender Student’s Preferred Pronouns," Christian Headlines, 2018-DEC-06, at: https://www.christianheadlines.com/
- "Virginia Teacher Fired for Refusing to Use Transgender Student's New Pronoun: 'I Miss the Female Version of the Student' ," Newsweek. 2018-DEC-07, at: https://www.newsweek.com/
- Karina Bolster, "West Point High teacher fired following transgender controversy," WWBT-TV, 2018-NOV-06, at: https://www.nbc12.com/
- "School Fires Teacher for Using Correct Pronoun for Girl Who Identifies as Boy. Join the Protest," TFP Student Action, 2018-DEC-12, at: https://www.tfpstudentaction.org/
- Lauren Feiner, "Apple, Amazon, Facebook and more than 50 other companies sign letter against Trump administration's proposed gender definition changes," CNBC, 2018-NOV-01, at: https://www.cnbc.com/
- "56 Major Companies Respond to Alarming Effort to Erase Transgender People From Legal Protections," National LGBTQ Task Force, 2018, at: http://www.thetaskforce.org/
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-DEC-21, the first day of Winter.