The Trump administration is planning its most aggressive broadside against transgender people yet, with a Health Department memo set to be released later this year that will deny the existence of trans people, according to a report in The New York Times.
The memo, circulating among government agencies since the spring, states that gender identity does not exist; that gender is set at birth and defined by genitalia. The Department of Health and Human Services is seeking to make its definition uniform among all federal agencies, including those that must comply with the federal civil rights law known as Title IX, which bans discrimination in public education under the basis of sex. That definition could mean recently-enacted protections for transgender people, in areas like health care coverage and bathroom access in public schools and universities, would no longer be applicable.
"Sex means a person's status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth," the memo reads, according to the 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."
Should the new policy go into effect, the only way for people to legally dispute the sex on their birth certificate would be through genetic testing.
The memo is being overseen by a transphobe named Roger Severino, who functions as the director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Health Department. Severino will next present his memo to the Justice Department -- led by another transphobe, Attorney General Jeff Sessions -- which will then decide whether its declarations are legal.
Should the memo be finalized and the guidelines set, its most immediate impact will likely be felt among trans people when they encounter health care discrimination or are denied the use of facilities in public schools and universities that comport with their gender identity.
“Setting a destructive precedent, the Trump-Pence administration intends to erase LGBTQ people from federal civil rights protections and eviscerate enforcement of non-discrimination laws,” said HRC President Chad Griffin in a press release. “Defining ‘sex’ in this narrow language tailored to the talking points of anti-equality extremists is part of a deliberate strategy to eliminate federal protections for LGBTQ people. This is a direct attack on the fundamental equality of LGBTQ people and, if this administration refuses to reverse course, Congress must immediately take action by advancing the Equality Act to ensure that LGBTQ people are explicitly protected by our nation’s civil rights laws.”
The Trump administration has already yanked unofficial Obama-era guidance that encourage schools to allow trans youth to use restrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity. Trump has also tried unsuccessfully to ban trans people from the military, and is working to erase them from the 2020 Census.