If you’ve been seeing “transgender” in headlines this week and you need a quick refresh of the definition…
A very, very truncated definition of transgender: Transgender is an umbrella term for people who identify with a gender, (meaning identifying as a woman or man), that differs from what they were assigned at birth. Some transgender people choose to dress and present as the gender they identify with. Some take prescribed hormones. Some undergo surgery. But not all transgender people take those steps and transgender identity is not dependent on physical appearance or medical procedures. This has been, a very, very truncated definition of transgender.
Besides Caitlyn Jenner, it’s likely that most folks don’t know of many transgender people let alone know any personally. And that’s likely because the adults who identify as transgender only make up around .6% of the population. Yeah, there are less transgender adults in America than there are Lyft rides every day.
So WHY the is this Trump administration so fixated on rolling back civil rights for such a small percentage of the population? In the words of Regina George “why are you so obsessed with them?”
Let’s add it up. First, the Trump administration rescinded the guidance that said trans student’s should be able to choose which bathroom they use. Then, there were the Trump tweets saying he would bring back the ban of transgender people openly serving in the military. Then, the Justice Department tried to said that trans workers aren’t protected under civil rights law.Then the HHS tried to end a rule that prohibits doctors, hospitals, and insurers from discriminating against transgender patients. Then, this administration introduced a new policy that said trans prisoners would be housed and decisions made for them based on their biological sex – For my Orange is the new black fans, think of Sophia Burset being sent to a men’s prison
And then this week — news broke of a Health and Human services memo that reportedly seeks to strictly define gender at birth. It references Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in education. (pause) It basically says, “You’re either born with boy parts or girls parts. Case closed. And if there is any confusion, the government can work it out with genetic testing.
Understandably, this upset a lot of people. Because, if what that memo said was to eventually become policy, it would be defining transgender out of existence.
The good news is that, for now, there are still a number of policies and federal laws that protect transgender people. And, this is one memo from last spring from one agency – an agency that doesn’t even have jurisdiction over Title IX. So it’s a leap but it sure is a cherry on top of the transphobic sundae this administration is serving up.
So, again, I ask, why so much concern and attention for this specific small group? Is it because they have to roll back everything Obama did? Is it to fire up Trump’s base before the midterms? Did Pence win a bet?
These are million and a half people who are just trying live their best lives like the rest of us – They are just trying to go to the bathroom, serve in the military, work, go to the doctor, and, you know, figure out what to watch on Thursdays now that Scandal’s off the air.
For the 99.4% of us who aren’t trans, this still matters. You don’t have to be black to care about police brutality. You don’t have to be a survivor of rape to care about sexual assault. Plus, when the government is arguing that some people aren’t covered under civil rights protections, that can become a slippery slope real fast.
On a final note, remember at the Republican national convention when Trump said this? To be fair, he did say he would protect them from foreign threats, he said nothing about domestic ones.
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