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Allies must stand with the transgender community

On Monday, Oct. 22 President Donald Trump’s administration, according to the New York Times, announced that it was looking into changes to Title IX that “would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with.” This change in the law would remove safety measures for transgender people that prohibit any kind of discrimination, from schools to health care. This move is yet another appalling measure from the Trump administration to deny trans people of their human rights. It is apparent that this president does not value equality and it is time that allies stop making LGBTQ individuals fight their fight alone.

This administration has made great efforts to erase trans experiences from the commonality of the United States. Back in July 2017, Trump stated that transgender people would no longer be eligible for serving in the military as the New York Times cites, “American forces could not afford the ‘tremendous medical costs and disruption’ of transgender service members.” A study at the time of this announcement by the RAND Corporation cited a “midrange estimate of around 2,450 transgender personnel in the active component,” and of that active personnel they estimate “between 29 and 129 service members in the active component will seek transition-related care that could disrupt their ability to deploy.” This study also estimated that “gender transition-related health care coverage to transgender personnel indicated that active-component health care costs would increase by between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually, representing a 0.04- to 0.13-percent increase in active-component health care expenditures.”

In July 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld a block on this ban, which allowed transgender people to continue to enlist in the military until it inevitably returns to the courts. However, with the recent swearing in of conservative Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, it seems inevitable that this ban will be confirmed under this presidency.

Today we are faced with an even more terrifying reality: our understanding of human identity is being threatened at the highest level. This move to diminish gender identity to the genitals with which people are born ignores human experience and holistically erases people who are gender non-conforming and intersex, meaning medically recognized variations on biological sex characteristics that don’t fit the outdated binary of male and female.

It might seem that gatekeeping who gets to be recognized as human and who doesn’t is a thing of the past, but everyday people are marching in the streets for women’s rights, marriage rights and religious freedom, and today we march for transgender rights. For so long, trans people have had to fight against persecution and discrimination on their own, while allies like myself stand by passively. Not anymore. We will tell this administration that they will not diminish us to just checked boxes. They will not erase the experiences of the millions of people who are transgender.

What we need to do now as a nation is stand up to our government and tell them that as much as they want to make humanity a singular story, one easily controlled and manipulated, we won’t go down silently. They will not erase transgender people and their identities. As allies, we must firmly stand with the transgender community and tell this administration that if they think they can do this to trans people, they will have a much bigger fight than they thought.

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