You Can't Erase Trans People: 4 Ways You Can Help Now
On Sunday, October 21st, The New York Times released a piece surrounding a memo obtained from the Department of Health and Human Services, which is spearheading an effort to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance.
What would this mean?
On paper, the initiative would mean that 1.4 million people who don't identify with their birth gender would potentially be barred from government-assisted funding for medical, and living expenses. Furthermore, it would roll back Obama-administration efforts to expand the conversation around trans-rights, which opened up the dialogue for topics such as bathroom usage, and discrimination of trans people in the workforce.
But, beyond the legal ramifications that erasing the identity of trans people this initiative would have, it would send the public a message: trans people can be erased.
In the memo obtained by The New York Times, the Department argued in its memo that key government agencies needed to adopt an explicit and uniform definition of gender as determined “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.” The agency’s proposed definition would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with, according to a draft reviewed by The Times. Any dispute about one’s sex would have to be clarified using genetic testing.
Essentially, in order to prove you were another gender, the government would issue a genetic test on you to confirm what your "birth gender" is, making it impossible for trans people to put on legal records the gender that they identify with for fear of identity fraud.
The trans community has long been regulated to the shadows of the LGBTQ+ public discourse. We've fought for equal right to marry and a slew of other issues, but this is a time where our most marginalized brothers and sisters are in open attack by policy makers, leaving them scared and dejected.
Here are four things you can do NOW to make a difference:
Listen to your trans brothers and sisters-- listen to their worries, their fears, and their emotions during this time. Although it may not be a particularly flowery conversation, these discussions are paramount in reminding the trans community that we're there to listen, learn, and validate their feelings.
If you can, look up Pro-Trans protests in your neighborhood. Gather a group of friends and call your local representatives. Figure out local ways to get involved whether that is volunteering at a call bank, setting up a letter-writing party, or the like. No way of getting involved is too- small. Consider even putting together a small fundraiser for the next stand-up comedy show you put on and donate that money to the ACLU-- whatever it is, make sure that you're not just standing by.
The mid-terms of fast approaching. Make sure you're registered to vote and that you're informed on your local representative's stances on political ideas you believe in. If you're looking for a place to start, here and here are great resources.
One of the key components is making a group of people complacent is to slowly get them used to small terrors. Don't allow yourself to feel numb from this. Remind yourself every day that this is just the beginning unless you use your political power to turn the tides. Don't allow yourself to be tired out-- our trans brothers & sisters are counting on us to have the energy to see this fight through.