About 1.4 million Americans are in danger of being erased from existence - according to the federal government, that is. And, as history has shown time and time again. if the government does not consider someone an equal citizen of this country, those people are likely to face cruel discrimination, poverty and violence.
Credit: Franziska Barczyk
On October 21, 2018, The New York Times published an alarming piece about the potential future for transgender people in America. If the Department of Health and Human Services have it their way, the legal definition for "sex" as used in Title IX, one of the federal civil rights laws, will be strictly confined to male or female as determined by the genitals a person is born with. This would exclude anyone who identifies as non-binary or a gender other than the one they were born into from protection against discrimination by federal agencies.
This is the Trump administration's most significant move to exclude transgender people from civil rights protections. Trump has already rescinded Obama-era policies that protect transgender Americans in schools, prisons and homeless shelters and sought to bar transgender people from serving in the military. but the move to define sex and gender as the one a person is born into would open the door to discrimination in all aspects of a transgender person's life.
On October 24th, 2018, the Justice Department told the Supreme Court that businesses can legally discriminate against workers based on their gender identity. Solicitor General Noel Francisco told the high court that a civil rights law banning sex discrimination on the job doesn’t cover transgender bias.
Aimee Stephens was fired from her job at a Michigan funeral home after telling her boss she was transitioning to a woman. Her boss argues that the funeral home has a dress code that requires employees to wear clothing that corresponds to their birth gender, and allowing her to continue working would distract mourners.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission won the suit against the funeral home in the Sixth Circuit, but now the DOJ wants to take the case to the Supreme Court to get the verdict overturned.
Transgender people are in for a lot more of this kind of discrimination if the Department of Health and Human Services gets this definition approved. Oklahoma and Kansas just signed bills into law that allow tax-payer funded adoption agencies the right to refuse to work with same-sex couple. This could extend easily to transgender people.
Any publicly-funded agency will have the right to discriminate against transgender people if the administration defines them out of existence. They can be refused a job, a lease, health-care, social security, welfare, a pet. It could go so far as to refuse them the right to eat, play and work in the same places as cisgender people.
An eradication from legal existence is the first step towards legally sanctioned violence. If a person's civil rights are not protected by the government, it becomes easier to view those people as inferior to those who are protected. The unprotected can easily become scapegoats for national fears, and as their personhood has already been declared invalid, their physical body can now be targeted.
It may seem like a long-shot from where we're standing right now, but the history of discrimination, slavery and genocide shows a long repeated pattern that starts with invalidating a group's humanity.
We must fight back now, before it's too late. The team here at This Boy's Vida supports the undeniable rights of all people around the world, including those of the transgender community. We are committed to telling the stories of the unheard, the overlooked and forgotten and we won't rest until they are all are told.