The Proletarian | Fight against trans erasure nationally, locally

Incorrectly defining gender as a binary will destroy purpose of Title IX


On Oct. 21, the Trump administration announced that they intend to narrow the definition of gender to being solely based on genitals at birth, as reported by The New York Times. This will effectively erase the reality of trans folk from the law books, and this is unacceptable.

Trans_Erasure_Protest_Silent_March (1)
Students march silently through the campus towards the Chancellor’s office. Courtesy: Ethan Costello

The memo put out by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was obtained by The New York Times. It states, “Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth.” Immutable is not how the world works. Immutable is unscientific. Immutable ignores history and material reality. The biological and medical research done on gender studies supports a complex definition of sex and gender. An article published on Business Insider reports very clearly that there are multiple layers to the development of a newborn’s gender. Genetic males with XY chromosomes may be resistant to male hormones. Genetic females with XX chromosomes may develop with male hormones. Even at the most foundational level of genetic gender, there can be a variety of chromosomal combinations which already shows the diversity of gender beyond the binary. There are many different documented conditions which affect the development of a person’s genitals. There are roughly 1.4 million folks in the United States who identify as transgender, or intersex. By attempting to legally define sex as fixed based on genitals at birth, Trump and the HHS seek to erase 1.4 million from reality.

The proposal released by the HHS will also specifically affect Title IX laws. Title IX is a civil rights law which gives protections to students against discrimination in schools and universities. Along with Betsy DeVos’ push to alter Title IX to give more protections to accused sexual assaulters on college campuses, this is another backwards, regressive measure.

This is top-down bureaucracy at its finest. The officials at the head of the state have no connection to the trans masses. Trans folk cannot and are not adequately represented. Especially in this administration, relations are starkly antagonistic towards trans folk. Of course, this country has never been kind to trans folk.

We must fight against this proposal whenever we can. We must fight against Trump whenever we can. If this proposal is passed, it will put hundreds of thousands of people—trans people—at risk legally, mentally and physically. The fight must continue on our campus. In the past few years, LGBTQ student organization Rainbow Alliance had been calling on campus administration to include more gender neutral bathrooms on campus to better fit the needs of the community. This can easily be done by cheap renovations to pre-existing restrooms. There have been two modified on campus within the past three years, but it is still inadequate accommodations. So the fight continues to install other restrooms in Greenquist and Molinaro halls.

Last week on Oct. 31, Students for a Democratic Society stood with Rainbow Alliance in protest of the Trump administrations trans-erasure proposal. After demonstrating and chanting, we silently marched through campus to the Chancellor’s office to bring Rainbow Alliance’s request to the forefront. If Chancellor Ford stands with the trans community on campus, she will act on this request personally. Not only will this show the administration’s solidarity with trans folk against Trump, but this will also create a safer campus and set an important precedent which may lead towards building trust between students and administration.

Ethan Costello is a senior majoring in communication, VP of No Victims Self Defense and Secretary of Students for a Democratic Society.

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