How would you feel if the president was literally trying to ‘erase’ your very existence? That’s the fate America’s 1.4 million trans people are facing if the Trump administration is successful in eradicating recognition of being trans.
Actress and writer Dana Levinson, a 30 year old trans woman admits that she’s been living with a pervasive level of constant anxiety ever since Donald Trump was elected president in 2016. “You never know when a shoe is going to drop. I woke up one morning to the trans military ban and another morning to the trans ‘memo’… it’s hard not to constantly feel like you’re under attack, you know?,” she shares.
The ‘trans memo’ that Dana is referring to is a proposed policy change on transgender protections outlined in a Trump administration memo leaked to the New York Times on Oct. 21st. The memo reveals that the Trump administration is considering defining gender as a ‘biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth that is unchangeable.’ The Department of Health and Human Services is apparently leading the effort to narrowly define gender based on the genitals a person is born with and therefore to ‘rollback recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law.’ That’s why it’s so important to vote on Nov. 6 for candidates that support trans rights and protections, and who will oppose the Trump administrations’ efforts to erase them. In almost all cases, that will be quite frankly, Democratic party candidates.
Consider this — the Trump’s administration’s new definition of ‘gender’ would completely erase federal recognition of the about 1.4 million Americans who have recognized themselves as a gender different from the one they were born into. Many of them have surgically transitioned to the other gender.
Plus, the Trump administration memo also erases the estimated 1.7 % number of Americans who are born intersex — a term used for “a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t fit the typical definitions of male or females” according to the Intersex Society of North America.
Dana also points out that federal websites have already ‘scrubbed all references to trans people and intersex’ people. And of course, Trump has already tried to ban transgender people from serving in the military — a move that so far has been blocked from implementation by the courts.
No wonder Dana and so many other trans and intersex Americans are waking up with anxiety every day. The new memo, “sends a terrible signal to transgender people across the country that the federal government doesn’t have their back,” says Sasha Buchert, a senior attorney with Lambda Legal, a national non-profit which works to achieve full recognition of civil rights for LGBTQ people.
The Obama administration had extended protections for transgender people and multiple court cases have also supported protections for transgender people, including the right of transgender students to use restrooms in schools consistent with their gender identity. “From day one, this administration has relentlessly gone after LGBTQ people and transgender people specifically,” Sasha points out. “They’re even encouraging the Centers for Disease Control not to use the word transgender.”
Now, if you’re someone who believes that all Americans including transgender people, should equally be protected by the president and federal government, then this is one more critical reason to vote in the midterm elections.
“Elections really do matter,” emphasizes Dana. “And our lives really do change and the general safety and security of our lives, really does change.” She also points out that Donald Trump throwing ‘red meat’ to his base by trying to erase transgender Americans has practical implications like making it far more difficult to get a new passport, something which Hillary Clinton had specifically made easier when she was Secretary of State.
Transgender Americans already face misunderstandings and ignorance and now Sam Brinton, the Head of Advocacy & Government Affairs for The Trevor Project, a national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth, points out that Trump’s administration’s ‘bully pulpit’ is loud. “Bullying may follow. Discrimination may follow. It’s critical to respond to that by saying no. Just because a memo from a federal agency says this, it doesn’t give anyone the right to discriminate against LGBTQ youth.”
Sam vows to meet with federal agencies and legislators if the Trump “administration tries to erase the youth who call us in crisis because you find it expedient.” Sasha Buchert also reassures that Lambda Legal will quickly challenge the Trump administration if they try to formally ‘erase’ transgender people.
“It’s hard for our community to be constantly under attack like this. We’re a resilient group of people. I’m transgender myself, we will rise above and continue to rise. it’s just a very difficult time,” Sasha points out.
To support transgender and intersex Americans please get out and vote in the Nov. 6th midterms and send a message that discrimination against any Americans, is NOT ok! Vote!