Earlier this week, in a leaked memo reported by the New York Times, the Trump administration stated that they believed in gender, “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, [that is] objective and administrable.” This memo proves that the Trump administration is working to roll back the rights that the Obama administration provided for transgender people, leaving people who do not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth now unprotected by law.
Why do transgender people need this protection? Without it, they can be discriminated against in their job searches, schools, prisons and homeless shelters. These laws that the Obama administration pushed for help protect civil rights and make sure every citizen has equal opportunities. The New York Times explains that the Department of Health and Human Services has been arguing that the term “sex” is unchangeable and was never meant to include LGBTQ+ people, and now provides civil rights to people “who should not have them.” However, should we not all have civil rights? This itself is a problem because it shows that there is a complete lack of respect for these lives. A diverse gender identity does not mean that a life is less valuable.
GRAPHIC COURTESY OF CAROLINE POLICH
The Trump administration has also argued that these laws impose a new idea of gender identity on the entire nation. However, someone else’s identity is never going to be pushed on another; there is no need to discuss it, debate it, or do anything but simply respect it. The tired excuse of men trying to sneak into women’s bathrooms with the excuse of different gender identity is unsubstantiated and is just an excuse for conservatives to push heteronormative agenda.
Transgender people cannot be erased through the erosion of their rights. Whether or not the Trump administration believes that diverse gender identities are valid does not matter, because they exist. No one is allowed to define anyone else’s gender identity. We need work on having empathy for people we do not directly relate with; just because you cannot personally relate to a someone’s experience or identity, does not mean that it is not real and should not be protected.
A call to all cisgender people—it is our job to take advantage of our privilege and speak out against these issues. Do not let heteronormativity continue. Speak out when you have the chance, and vote against the people who are perpetuating this hateful dialogue. Encourage your representatives to make laws that are protecting these rights, so that we do not have to rely on our president to encourage them anyway. There is strength in numbers, and transgender people cannot take on this battle alone.