Aging rich white men in public office continue dreaming up new cruel, but not unusual, devices to further ensure oppressed people are barred from income, physical safety, human dignity and autonomy over their own bodies. This time, the New York Times has obtained a memo indicating that the Trump administration will once and for all decide whether to recognize that transgender people–at least 1.4 million adults in the U.S.–exist. According to the Times, the memo distributed by the Department of Health and Human Services has ordered government agencies to revert to a binary version of gender based “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.” That’s going to be pretty fucking tricky since they’ve already banned the CDC from using the words “transgender” and “science-based” in their upcoming budget documents.
The Times reports that the Department of Health and Human Services will present their official definition of gender identity to the Department of Justice at the end of the year, which will then choose whether or not to adopt it, and if it does (read: if Jeff Sessions lives and breathes through December), then they double down on the agenda to definitively cut trans people from protections against discrimination under “sex” as provided by Title IX of the Civil Rights Act. Last year Sessions specifically wrote a memo declaring that “‘Sex’ is ordinarily defined to mean biologically male or female,” making it pretty clear that he’s already made up his phobia-ridden genitalia-obsessed mind.
“This proposal is an attempt to put heartless restraints on the lives of 2 million people [author note: the population factors in estimates of trans youth], effectively abandoning our right to equal access to health care, to housing, to education, or to fair treatment under the law,” the National Center for Transgender Equality said in a statement. The organization cites the Equality Act, a bill currently under consideration in Congress, which would specifically amend the Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
“With each awful headline like this, remember that you are far from alone,” the NCTE addresses transgender people. “Thousands of us have devoted our lives to protecting you and your families, and our ability to do so is nothing short of a privilege. And we will not lay down now.”
They’re fighting a war on all fronts on behalf of a population who already are almost universally bullied at school, who face outsized risk of suicide and HIV, an unemployment rate which was, as of 2015, three times higher than the national average, are four times more likely than the general population to live in extreme poverty and whose medical decisions can be denied by some CVS pharmacist because their fellow citizens are free to make life hell anyway.
Update 10/21: In response to dispiriting headlines like these, the suicide prevention network the Trevor Project has put out a call to offer support via its lifeline. They write:
“These policy decisions have real-world consequences. 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% of our total crisis volume. When government takes actions targeting the transgender community, our call volume spikes even higher. The administration’s choice to deny the reality of transgender lives is reckless and dangerous.
Call our 24/7 lifeline at 1-866-488-7386. Text and chat counseling is available from 3-10pm EST every day at www.thetrevorproject.org/help.”