Another View: No one has a right to define who you are
A report earlier this month that the Trump administration is moving toward a strict definition about what defines a person's gender should be unsettling, not just for members of the LGBTQ community, whom it clearly targets, but for anyone who believes in upholding the basic dignity of individuals.
If enacted, the move would represent a significant step backward for a country that has up until recently rightly seen itself as a bellwether for human rights. Now, however, that proud heritage and tradition risks being undermined by forces that seem intent on dividing rather than uniting us.
This is hardly the first volley against the LGBTQ community by this administration. Last year, President Trump indicated that he would ban individuals who are transgender from serving in the military, despite a military-commissioned report that indicated that their presence in no way negatively affected military preparedness.
The administration also oversaw a rollback of Obama-era guidance to public schools that encouraged school officials to allow individuals who are transgender to use the bathrooms of the gender with which they identified. This, despite numerous reports indicating that transgender and gay students are disproportionately more likely to feel threatened and suffer from suicidal thoughts than the general teenage population.
Then there was Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who issued a memo indicating that existing civil rights laws did not protect transgender individuals from workplace discrimination.
The list goes on and on.
But there is something about these new rules under consideration that strikes so deeply to the core of who someone is that it deserves an enhanced level of outrage.
The proposal, which the New York Times reported is circulating at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, would define gender as an unchangeable biological condition set at birth.
Any questions arising as to the true gender of an individual would be settled through the use of genetic testing.
This would, of course, create an easily defined binary world where everyone fits nicely into one of two boxes, marked with either an M or an F. It would allow certain individuals, in their narrow minds at least, to erase not only the concept of being transgender, but gender fluidity, and even the medical condition known as gender dysphoria, a state of discomfort that comes with identifying with a gender that one was not born as. It would also essentially erase the legal identity of an estimated 1.4 million transgender individuals living in the United States today.
It would not, however, erase the fact that these individuals are our family members, our friends, our spouses, and our fellow citizens. It would not erase the pain and suffering that many of them have faced as they have undergone years of self-searching and self-examination as they tried to deal with the fact that they were born into a body with which they do not identify. And despite everything that the Trump administration seems committed to achieving, it would not erase them as human beings.
Fortunately, a large and vocal coalition of human rights advocates have begun to coalesce around challenging this effort, should it move forward. But they cannot act alone in this regard. This proposal should outrage anyone who values the dignity of the individual; who believes that no one — especially the government — has a right to define who anyone else is; who believes that laws of this country are designed to protect everyone within it, regardless of the gender with which they identify.
In short, it is time to send a clear and unmistakable message to those within this government who believe that they can use ignorance and fear to define and divide us: You will not succeed, because if you come after one of us, or one group of us, you come after all of us.
— The Cape Cod (Mass.) Times, Nov. 1
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