RSN Fundraising Banner
How Republicans Laid the Groundwork for Trump's Assault on Transgender Existence
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=49373"><span class="small">Evan Urquhart, Slate</span></a>   
Monday, 22 October 2018 08:29

Urquhart writes: "The Republican campaign to deny the humanity of transgender Americans has now reached its logical endpoint."

A demonstrator holds a sign at a transgender rights rally. (photo: National Center for Transgender Equality)
A demonstrator holds a sign at a transgender rights rally. (photo: National Center for Transgender Equality)

How Republicans Laid the Groundwork for Trump's Assault on Transgender Existence

By Evan Urquhart, Slate

22 October 18


he Republican campaign to deny the humanity of transgender Americans has now reached its logical endpoint. According to the New York Times, the Trump administration seeks to redefine the sex of every American in a narrow, unscientific, and intentionally trans-exclusive manner. The Times quotes internal memos stating: “The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.”

The immediate intent of this change would be to cut transgender people off from accessing protections under existing civil rights laws, many of which bar discrimination on the basis of sex. The long-term implications of the government defining sex in a manner that intentionally excludes intersex people and sexual minorities are impossible to overstate. This is a radical attempt to overturn the scientific framework and legal precedents that have allowed for the recognition of trans people’s existence. But the Republican Party has been telling us all along that it would rather trans people did not exist. It should come as no surprise that the Trump administration is trying to erase us altogether.

Have you heard the joke about how Democrats don’t even know the difference between a man and a woman, so how can you trust them on [insert-issue-here]? If you haven’t, you’ve been living under a rock. For years conservatives have been inserting anti-trans talking points into every campaign, every policy discussion, large and small. We’ve seen it on the national level, as when Sen. Ted Cruz used Donald Trump’s tepid support of Caitlyn Jenner to attack him in 2016:

All this snarking is intended to undermine the ability of transgender Americans to advocate for our rights. The campaign against us has been so effective that even many ostensible liberals have piled on, suggesting that supporting rights for transgender people is an unaffordable luxury in today’s climate. In theory, this line of thinking goes, all people may be entitled to dignity and respect—but supporting trans people is just too hard in the face of constant anti-trans mockery. (If it seems too difficult for Democrats to push back against the constant drumbeat of anti-trans talking points from the right, imagine how it feels to push back when it’s your own existence on the line.)

Naively, liberals who opposed pro-trans policies generally assumed that conservatives simply wished to maintain the status quo—to preserve legal discrimination against transgender people in housing, employment, and medical care. Even after Trump announced a total ban on transgender people serving in the military, they did not recognize the conservative push to erase our identities altogether, to outlaw a legal transition from one gender to another. The news of Trump’s legal re-definition of sex proves just how wrongheaded that assumption always was. Conservatives are now saying, loud and clear, that will not be content as long as transgender people exist. A GOP that believes it can redefine the sex of transgender Americans is a GOP that could end legal document changes, restrict transition-related medical procedures, or bring back archaic laws that criminalized dressing as the opposite sex.

Even if the Republican Party went no further—and believe me, it won’t stop here—the current attack on legal protections for transgender people is grave enough already. The Department of Health and Human Services is eager to redefine “sex” so that it can deny coverage of the only effective treatment for gender dysphoria: transition. While transition-related care may be politically controversial, medical evidence has shown that it is safe, effective, and necessary for trans people suffering with dysphoria. That’s why mainstream medical organizations support transition care. In the Department of Education, redefining sex will prevent young people from accessing equal accommodations at school. Redefining sex within the Department of Justice—something Attorney General Jeff Sessions has already attempted to do—will further cement the new reality that transgender Americans do not have legally recognized rights in the workplace, where LGBTQ people face routine discrimination.

It’s a difficult time to be a progressive. The fundamental American values we’ve long used to measure progress are suddenly under attack. Trump and the GOP have shown that they do not believe in human rights at home or abroad. The rights of asylum seekers and children of migrants have been illegally done away with. Our rhetorical commitment to supporting human rights abroad no longer obtains. In light of this dramatic shift away from upholding human rights, the rights of transgender people may feel secondary, dispensable.

But whenever the left agrees to a compromise on basic principles, whenever we accept that some groups’ rights are more equal than others, the message we’re sending is that human rights are ultimately negotiable. The GOP didn’t stop with demonizing Muslims or Hispanics. It won’t stop with trans people, either.

Email This Page your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+1 # Carol R 2018-10-22 09:44
I am appalled at the lack of caring that seems to be invading our society. Ever since Trump became president, the GOP has wandered into territory that is hurting many, many people. Muslims, immigrants, children taken from their parents, cutting healthcare for pre-existing conditions, women's rights, trans people, gays, Post Office funding, judges on the far right being nominated and the wanting to cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. I do not understand why anyone votes for this abuse while the wealthy can luxuriate in their tax cuts. Corporations are not people and guns do kill. Trump and the GOP are vile.
+2 # 1dfnslblty 2018-10-22 10:38
True, there is no stopping the paranoid and fearful folk at the heads of the various govt department ~ beginning with potus ~ as they demand and ordain by fiat limitations to the accessibility of social services.
america and the world must be alert to and argue against such tyranny.
+2 # wilhelmscream 2018-10-22 12:54
How long b4 Trump tries 2 scrap The Civil Right Act (ALL)? UP YOURS TRUMP!!
+2 # wilhelmscream 2018-10-22 13:05