On Sunday, the New York Times published an internal memo that shows the Trump administration’s plans to legislate transgender people right out of existence. Predictably, the crowd went wild; the move, like so much of this administration’s work, is intolerant, phobic, and un-American. I’m hardly needed to point out how the bigots in our government and those who finance them are unraveling the very fabric of our society.
So I’m not going to talk about trans-people, and how they are actual people, and they are entitled to the same human rights we all expect. Instead, I’d like to focus on how these ignorant attempts to eradicate transgenderism affect the rest of us. That’s right. Even the most cisgender among us are legally tied to the transgender population, and we need to understand what our government is doing.
- They’re repackaging nonsense as “science.”
The Trump administration hasn’t been real big on science. At least insofar as we’re talking about the ongoing survival of our planet, these people have been on Team We-Don’t-Trust-The-Experts. Now, suddenly they’re looking for a definition of the word “sex” that “is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.”
Efficient as that all sounds, what it actually means is that our government is looking to ignore science. Scientists are the folks who alerted us to the fact that intersex people – those who are born with mixed genitalia, or reproductive anatomy that doesn’t match their genetic gender– exist. The many doctors who, for years, have been grappling with the ethical treatment of intersex patients would be the first to explain that gender isn’t neatly binary. Although intersex people and transgender people are two entirely distinct groups, they become inextricably linked at the hands of discriminators.
I know the Trump people feel all sorts of uncomfortable when they have to learn new things, but paying attention to science can be critical in making smart decisions about our future. Just ask the elders of Krypton.
- They’re making gender conformity frighteningly powerful.
Limiting the definition of “sex” in the context of discrimination policies could affect any person who acts in a way considered “non-conforming” to their gender. Today, even most social conservatives agree that women should be allowed in the workplace, that men deserve paternity leave, that some girls look nice with short hair, and that it’s fine for boys to occasionally wear pink. Most of us would agree that discrimination against someone for wearing or doing something “gender non-conforming” is and should remain illegal.
Transgenderism and homosexuality are other examples of gender non-conformity; firing a woman because she is married to another woman, or because she wears traditionally male clothing is, legally, no different from firing her for not knowing how to cook and sew. From bathroom use to gender identity, the controversy always boils down to, “you are a member of _____ gender; therefore, you should do _____ , like other members of your gender.”
Discrimination against people for being transgender is not separable from discrimination based on other gender-based factors. Not very long ago, women weren’t permitted to own property, to vote, or to participate in government. Generally, we’ve evolved to recognize that gender roles can and should be determined by the individual – not by society, and certainly not by government. Trump’s attempt to simply gender into an “objective” duality is actually a radical step backward to a time when gender was a disturbingly critical factor in determining human rights. Transphobic policies like the ones reported today constitute the kind of gateway discrimination that lays the groundwork for us all to become tomorrow’s Commander Waterfords and Serena Joys.
- They’re setting everyone up for federally-mandated genetic testing.
Trump’s new plan would allow birth certificates to constitute proof of gender, subject to certain instances of genetic testing. Mandating genetic-testing to claim your rights? Sure, what could possibly go wrong?
Republican or Democrat, most of us would be appalled at the idea of the government forcing us to register with 23andMe.com. Our blood is our business, and we don’t condition legal rights on getting the right score. I’m not generally a big “what would the founding fathers have done” person – but come on. This is about as far as “all men are created equal” as it gets. And that’s to say nothing of potential ideas have for undermining the rights of individual states to govern their own birth certificates. In their zeal to marginalize transgender Americans, Trump’s people have sacrificed not only individual rights, but states’ rights. You remember states’ rights, right? Those are the ones that conservatives purport to put above all else.
[Image via Mark Makela/Getty Images]
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.