The Trump administration is weighing significantly narrowing the definition of gender that would require individuals to identify either as male or female based on their genitalia at birth, a move that could roll back protections for transgender Americans, according to a memo from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) obtained by The New York Times.
In a proposition that may affect federal recognition of transgendered individuals in the U.S., the Trump administration attempts to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX; a federal civil rights law that protects against gender discrimination in educational programs that receive financial assistance from the government.
“Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth,” the department proposed in the memo, 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.”
The move would essentially exclude the transgender population from civil rights protections and would roll back Obama administration policies that loosened the legal concept of sex in federal programs, recognizing it largely as a person’s choice.
“These policy decisions have real-world consequences,” Amit Paley, CEO and executive director of The Trevor Project, an organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender youth, said in a statement.
“The Trevor Project has seen a significant rise in contacts from young people who identify as transgender or non-binary over the last year, now making up over 30 percent of our total crisis volume,” Paley said. “When government takes actions targeting the transgender community, our call volume spikes even higher.”
The new definition of sex is expected to be presented to the Department of Justice by the end of the year, the publication reported. If the definition is deemed legal, it could be approved and enforced across Title IX statutes and government agencies.
An HHS spokesperson provided a statement from Roger Severino, head of the Office of Civil Rights at HHS:
“A federal court has blocked HHS’s rule on gender identity and termination of pregnancy as contrary to law and infringing the rights of healthcare providers across the country. The court order remains in full force and effect today and HHS is abiding by it as we continue to review the issue.”
This proposal is an attempt to put restraints on the lives of 2 million people, effectively abandoning our right to equal access to health care, to housing, to education, or to fair treatment under the law.
— National Center for Transgender Equality (@TransEquality) October 21, 2018
They can try all they want, but they cannot erase us.
— Janet Mock (@janetmock) October 21, 2018