The Impending, Anti-LBGT Policy
Though many Packer students may feel burnt out in recent years due to Packer’s commitment to provide us with a comprehensive understanding of the gender spectrum, that understanding does not extend to the entirety of our country. While the LGBTQ+ community is becoming more widely accepted and recognized, as politicians like Barack Obama publicly advocate for their rights through progressive legislation such as the legalization of gay marriage, some Americans who do recognize the lesbian and gay community struggle to accept the growing population of those who identify as transgender or non-binary. Excuses for the non-acceptance are constantly tossed around, pointing to the relatively small numbers of transgender and non-binary people and the supposed difficulties of understanding these individuals. But the 1.4 million Americans that fall into this category, as reported in the New York Times, do not deserve to be overlooked by our government and much of our society.
How, despite the increasingly frequent pleas for inclusivity, has this happened?
The transgender and non-binary communitity face many difficulties, not only due to oppressing politics, but because of intense internal struggles. A common misconception perpetuated by the Trump administration, and accepted by many, is that being transgender is a conscious choice that an individual makes to become a new person. In truth, though, being transgender is not about being a new person; it is about becoming and evolving into the person you were always meant to be. For many transgender individuals the process of transitioning is the natural fulfillment of one’s desired and preferred sex — a reality that most Americans do not wish to face.
The discomfort a transgender individual feels with their biological sex is an unexplainable, complex feeling of gender dysphoria. Gabi Prieto, a transgender teen who is fortunate enough to live in an accepting community like Brooklyn, continued to feel uncomfortable with his appearance after transitioning, which for him translated into “this weird anger towards my body and the way it looks in clothes.” A few years after Gabi’s transition, he was lucky enough to receive periareolar top surgery (breast removal surgery); this significant transformation reduced some of the extreme gender dysphoria he experienced.
Our current administration completely disregards these realities, and therefore continues to advance inhumane policies, thus violating trans citizens’ basic human rights. Recently, President Trump proposed narrowing the definition of gender to the sole, unchangeable sex of male or female, determined only by the genitalia a person is born with. Trump and his department of health stated that “sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth.” Unfortunately, many of our government officials support the president’s outrageous idea.
Roger Severino, Director of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, rejected the Obama Administration’s expansion of the gender and sex definition that recognized the transgender and non-binary community, describing Obama’s views and policies as a “culmination of a series of unilateral, and frequently lawless, administration attempts to impose a new definition of what it means to be a man or a woman on the entire nation.” Severino’s tone-deaf, closed-minded point of view about gender poses a serious threat to the transgender community. The frighteningly high number of people in the government who share this point of view will try to reverse the progress and determined strides our nation has made to accept the entire LGBTQ+ community.
Government figures like Severino could implement policies like Trump’s which would be enforced by the Departments of Education, Justice, Health and Human Services, and Labor, thereby influencing the lives of every American. The Department of Health and Human Services, for example, is currently trying to persuade the Justice Department to legalize and implement Trump’s rigid definition of gender throughout all governmental channels. Were this shift to happen, it could potentially call for the requirement of genetic testing to determine sex, and could work to cement the fact that the “civil rights law that prohibits job discrimination does not cover gender identity, per se,” the New York Times reported.
Trump’s strictly narrow definition of gender, if passed and promulgated, will have profound repercussions in many sectors of life: in school, the workplace, the judicial system, and even in hospitals. With these impending realities in mind, the American people must come together to protect and support the transgender community and more specifically vote with these transgender citizens in mind, in lieu of the current lack of governmental support. The LBGTQ+ community deserves our help in redirecting this country’s future into a more promising and safe place that welcomes all and every individual’s gender identity.