In October, the Trump administration’s plans to crack down on transgender rights and policies were leaked to the public. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services plans to redefine gender as strictly biological, which would roll back the definition of gender as an individual’s decision, removing civil rights granted to transgender people under the Obama administration.
Furthermore, the Trump administration wants to remove “gender” from UN human rights documents, and the Department of Justice is trying to declare that businesses are allowed to discriminate against transgender people — because transgender doesn’t adhere to the standards set under “sex.”
None of this is necessarily shocking, since after President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were sworn into office, all mentions of LGBTQ issues were removed from the White House website.
Trump and Pence never had the interests of LGBTQ people in mind, even if Trump keeps saying his decisions are the best for everyone.
The administration wants gender to be defined so it is “biological, grounded in science and administrable.”
But gender isn’t something that can be controlled by outside forces. Without jumping too far down the rabbit hole, gender and sex are two different things. Gender is fluid and based on spectrum. It’s how a person identifies and has nothing to do with your genitals. Even so, the administration trying to define gender in a binary, narrow way would exclude intersex people who don’t have reproductive or sexual anatomy that fits into the traditional definitions of female or male.
Plans to redefine gender as strictly biological and “grounded in science,” would invalidate and endanger nearly 1.4 million Americans who identify as transgender.
Transphobia and anxiety around trans folks stems back decades and decades. Trans men and women led the fight in the LGBTQ liberation movement, spurred by the 1969 Stonewall Riots.
People don’t like what they can’t understand and when people can’t get outside of their binary box, they oppress those who are simply trying to live their truth.
Of more than 6,000 hate crimes reported to the FBI in 2016 — a five percent increase from the previous year — more than 1,000 were based on sexual orientation bias, and 124 were based on gender identity bias.
During this “Trump” era, the president has emboldened people who already embraced transphobic and homophobic ideals. His future plans pertaining to trans people will only further that hate. Trump wants to make it illegal and almost forbidden to identify outside the binary, and he’s trying to make it legal for people to discriminate against them.
It’s a scary time to be trans right now — but when hasn’t it been?
We often forget trans people in the queer community because marriage equality has been achieved — but hate crimes and discrimination against gay couples didn’t cease when they were able to marry. The struggle to achieve freedom in the queer community is an ongoing fight.
I’m calling on the LGBTQ community and cisgender people to embolden trans voices during this time and use any privilege you have to protect them. As a black, cisgender queer woman, I still have a lot of privilege because I’ll never know what it’s like to be trans.
I’ll never know what it’s like to fear coming out as trans to a partner because they may kill me.
I’ll never know what it’s like to figure out which bathroom I should use for my own safety and comfort.
I’ll never know what it’s like for people to misgender me and invalidate my gender and call me an “it.”
A lot of us will never know this and we have to be mindful of our cis privilege during these times and how we can leverage that to uplift trans folks without speaking over them or for them.
I’m not sure what will happen under the Trump administration to trans folks, but I do know that I have to ask myself what I am I willing to do to protect them and stand in solidarity with them.
Because we cannot be truly free from the chains of oppression until everyone is free.