We’re all familiar with German pastor Martin Niemöller’s famous poem about speaking out. For U.S. voters, that time is now.
On Sunday, The New York Times reported that the Trump administration—and this is hard to even type—is “considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth, the most drastic move yet in a governmentwide effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law.”
The newspaper said the effort is being spearheaded by the Department of Health and Human Services and aims to set a legal definition of sex under Title IX. The Times based its report on a government memo that has been circulating since last spring.
The report noted:
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.
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Title IX currently states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
The move would affect an estimated 1.4 million Americans.
In a classic case of the fox guarding the henhouse—which is pretty much true across the entire Trump administration—one of the key planners of this Nazi-esque bullshit is Roger Severino, the director of HHS’ Office for Civil Rights. Earlier this year, Severino created a division of the Office of Civil Rights called the “Conscience and Religious Freedom Division,” whose goal is to “protect” workers who claim their employers have violated “moral” or “religious” convictions.
With that division, the Trump administration sought to protect health workers who refuse to provide care to transgender patients or women seeking abortion services, Katie McDonough reported for Splinter last January. Severino was picked for his current government position precisely because he has been outspoken about these issues before, particularly while serving as director of the Heritage Foundation’s DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society.
In 2016, he co-authored a report for the foundation arguing that Obamacare’s gender identity mandate threatened “the religious liberty, freedom of conscience, and independent medical judgment of health care professionals.”
The same year, he co-authored an op-ed attacking the Obama administration for protecting transgender students’ rights in schools and workers’ rights in government offices.
“The administration’s moves have prompted a massive backlash from people who are justifiably concerned about their safety, privacy and religious freedom, and who refuse to accept a federal government driven by such a radical gender ideology,” he and co-author Ryan T. Anderson, another Heritage Foundation researcher, wrote.
From day one, the Trump administration has tirelessly attacked the transgender community, seeking to ban them from everything from appropriate bathrooms to military barracks. It even tried to take away some transgender people’s passports.
In a series of tweets responding to the Times article, the National Center for Transgender Equality said, “This proposal is an attempt to put restraints on the lives of 2 million people, effectively abandoning our right to equal access to health care, to housing, to education, or to fair treatment under the law.
“This administration is willing to disregard the established medical and legal view of our rights and ourselves to solidify an archaic, dogmatic, and frightening view of the world. This transparent political attack will not succeed administratively, legally, or morally,” it said.
The center also issued a direct message to transgender people: “We know you are frightened. We know you are horrified to see your existence treated in such an inhumane and flippant manner. This is an abomination, a reckless attack on your lives and ours.”
Many others also weighed in on Twitter. New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood tweeted: “This is deeply cruel and simply unacceptable. My office will continue to do everything in our power to protect transgender New Yorkers.”
“Brought to you by the party of small government,” tweeted New York Times reporter Liam Stack.
“It isn’t subtle. With two weeks left, @realDonaldTrump is madly pushing every culturally divisive button he can to try and spur his voters to the polls,” said David Axelrod, a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama.
ActBlue, a fundraising nonprofit helping to raise small donations online for Democratic candidates, responded by calling for new donations to Christine Hallquist, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Vermont. Hallquist is the first openly transgender gubernatorial nominee for a major party.
The National Center for Transgender Equality added: “And NO rule—no administration—can erase the experiences of transgender people and our families. While foolish, this proposed rule deflates itself in the face of the facts, and the facts don’t care how the Trump administration feels.”