Earlier this week, the New York Times published an article describing a memo leaked from the Trump Administration's Department of Health and Human Services. Trump's HHS wants to use Title IX to define gender "on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable"--a flagrant attack on transgender and gender non-conforming (GNC) individuals. This memo doesn't change multiple court rulings affirming that trans and GNC people are protected by the law or medical authorities stating unequivocally that all people deserve access to care which affirms their gender identity. This memo doesn't change the many hard-won successes that trans and GNC communities have fought for. What this memo does do is promote fear, misunderstanding, and stigma.
This proposal is a bare-knuckled assault on the civil rights and safety of people who identify as outside of the gender binary. It is an act of violence with very real and serious consequences for the health, healthcare, and related safety of individual young people.
Trans and GNC youth are under siege in this country. They are more likely to face mental health issues and health and healthcare access disparities. Along with other queer-identified youth, they face disproportionately high levels of interaction with the criminal justice system, especially through discriminatory policing and incarceration. Trans and GNC youth, already put in harm's way by stigma and systemic discrimination, will experience the brunt of this extremist attack. This is particularly true of trans and GNC youth who are in the custody of the state, be it in foster care or in juvenile or adult detention centers. Incarcerated trans and GNC youth experience violence, a lack of health services, and difficulty finding placement consistent with their gender identity. System-involved trans and GNC youth have been invisibilized already; the Trump Administration seeks to erase them altogether.
What can you do to support trans and GNC Americans right now? Make your voice heard.
November 6 is less than two weeks away and early voting is ongoing in many states. Gather your friends and neighbors, and GO VOTE for candidates who will protect the rights of trans and GNC people.
This proposal will have a public "notice and comment" period. This is an important opportunity to tell the Trump administration what you think. Make sure that the lives and rights of trans and GNC people are impossible to ignore. Check with local and national LGBTQ+ organizations for guides and bullet points so that your statement has the most impact.
The proposed regulations that erase trans people are currently at the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). Call OIRA and set up a phone or in-person meeting to tell them why this definition is hurtful to so many Americans.
The Center for HIV Law and Policy stands with the trans and GNC communities, and with our partners in our strong support of these communities. The lives of trans and GNC people transcend their hardships. They transcend the failures of this country to recognize their identities with respect, dignity, and equal treatment. CHLP continues to champion the work of communities of queer youth who are activating and mobilizing for change. This administration should not underestimate the power of trans and GNC youth, who have lived most of their lives fighting for a place. They won't stop now. We stand with them.
Arpita Appannagari is national community outreach coordinator at The Center for HIV Law and Policy.
[Note from TheBody: This article was originally published by The Center for HIV Law and Policy on Oct. 25, 2018. We have cross-posted it with their permission.]