The Trump administration is allegedly considering legislation to rigidly define gender as a fixed status determined biologically at birth, reversing Obama-era policies that granted federal recognition to transgender individuals.
The New York Times claims to have obtained a memo from the Department of Human Services, which is seeking to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in educational programs that receive federal government assistance.
The HHS memo said gender should be defined “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable,” according to the Times, which would make a person’s gender strictly male or female and unchanging.
“Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth,” the memo said, according to the Times. “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.”
According to a 2016 survey from the Williams Institute, a UCLA Law-based think tank, about 1.4 million American adults identify as transgender.
Former President Barack Obama’s administration argued that Title IX bars discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation.
The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ civil rights organization, condemned the plan as the administration’s latest effort “to undermine the rights and welfare of LGBTQ people.”
“Defining ‘sex’ in this narrow language tailored to the talking points of anti-equality extremists is part of a deliberate strategy to eliminate federal protections for LGBTQ people,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement. “This is a direct attack on the fundamental equality of LGBTQ people and, if this administration refuses to reverse course, Congress must immediately take action by advancing the Equality Act to ensure that LGBTQ people are explicitly protected by our nation’s civil rights laws.”