Lost in Translation: The Threat of Trump’s Anti-Transgender Proposal

Olivia Pan ’20

Chief Opinions Editor

The Trump administration is currently seeking to advance steps that may ultimately disregard the transgender community in its entirety, leaving those who identify as transgender completely vulnerable to discrimination. According to the New York Times, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is “considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth.” Vox.com further reports that if this proposal is approved, it would “effectively erase protections for trans people…ensuring that the laws do not prohibit discrimination against trans people in any setting, including the workplace, housing, schools, and health care.”

Many people, especially those in the trans community, are deeply outraged and afraid of what may happen. And while I am certainly angry, I am not surprised that something like this is happening at this time. Trump is, and has been, hell bent on reversing any decisions executed by Obama. The Obama administration notably “loosened the legal concept of gender in federal programs” (New York Times). So, it comes as no surprise that Trump would continue his pattern of attempting to erase Obama’s legacy. However, what Trump’s administration is attempting to do now is not only ludicrous, but dangerous. 

The insanity of this proposal lies in the fact that an entire community of people do not cease to exist simply because the Trump administration says so. The HHS can spin their concept of gender any way they want, but their new definition (which is wildly inaccurate and limited to say the least), does not negate the very existence of trans people, not to mention science. According to Dr. Jason Rafferty of Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Rhode Island, “gender goes beyond biology” (abcnews.go.com). In other words, the sex you’re assigned at birth is not the same as your gender identity. Psychology Today has written that the Trump administration is also “…likely under the wrong impression that all people have XY or XX chromosomes or that people’s chromosomes invariably define their gender.” This is, of course, a false notion. The current administration is falsifying scientifically-supported notions and facts regarding what gender is, and how it is defined. The lunacy, for me, is more to the question: what business is it of theirs how people choose to identify? It’s as backward as attempting to control who a person wants to love or have sex with.

We should not ignore the danger of such a proposal. This proposal, which would allow for the discrimination of an entire community, would undoubtedly fuel transphobia in this country. This country has already seen an uptick in hate crimes since Trump has taken office, and this initiative would only provide transphobic individuals more incentive to discriminate and abuse trans people.  As it stands, transgender individuals already have extremely high rates of suicide, and are frequently the victims of bullying, work-place harassment, and sexual assault, according to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey. This same survey reported that 41% of its transgender survey participants had attempted suicide previously. If you think it can’t get any worse than this, think again.

The Trump administration is putting into a play another policy that only harms a community of people already at risk. They are once again ignoring science as they have done with climate change, among other items, and making it up as they go along. The transgender community is not going anywhere and we should all be concerned and outraged that any group is being singled out for discrimination and/or marginalized because the current administration wants to take us back to the 1950’s. I am not sure which is worse: that the Trump administration seems obsessed with erasing Obama’s legacy or that they simply do not care about the very real science and knowledge that we now have in our possession. Either way, it is another useless and harmful policy meant to appeal to the lowest base of Trump supporters and to distract from the real crisis that we face as a nation divided with a dysfunctional government.


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