The Trump Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is considering a radical rollback of Obama-era decisions that recognized gender largely as an individual’s choice and not determined by the sex assigned at birth. This right-wing, extremist policy is designed to deprive transgender people of recognition and protection under civil rights law. It is clear that the administration intends to use this attack on trans persons as a message to energize their right-wing supporters prior to the mid-term election.
NOW unequivocally condemns the Trump Administration’s latest attack on transgender Americans. Over the course of the last two years, the Trump Administration has attacked the rights of transgender citizens. These attacks have been systematic and we must not only remain vigilant against further actions, but also seek to widen protections for non-binary people, trans people, and gender non-conforming individuals.
Earlier this year, the Department of Education rescinded an Obama Era guidance that recommended schools respect the rights of transgender students by allowing them to access gender affirming spaces including programs and bathrooms. As anti-bathroom laws proliferated across the United States, the rescinding of this guidance was a blow to the securing federal protections for transgender students.
The Department of Education rebuffed criticism to the decision and said that transgender students were still protected against discrimination and harassment under civil rights laws. The HHS’s new proposal to narrowly define sex discrimination as either female or male, unchangeable and determined by genitals proves that the Department had no intention of keeping this promise.
For the Trump Administration to remove civil rights protections against trans people will further exacerbate violence against them. Transphobic violence and harassment has been increasing in recent years and Trump’s unethical and harmful policies do nothing but legitimize anti-trans rhetoric. Transphobic violence and harassment disproportionately affect trans women and trans women of color and Trump’s policies will greatly affect their livelihoods.
Trump’s treatment of trans-Americans is indicative of his core beliefs. Human rights, dignity, and federal support will only be afforded to those who look, act, and think like him. We have a simple message for the Trump Administration: Trans people will not be erased. Not from history, not from civil rights, and not from our country. NOW stands with trans people and reaffirms our commitment to supporting and promoting policies that protect and uplift trans and non-binary people.
When voters go to the polls in the midterms, they should ask themselves if they want to support candidates who believe in restricting or eliminating civil rights protections or expanding them. Our vote is our voice—and we intend to use it.