From The Advocate: https://www.advocate.com/commentary/2018/10/22/trans-plea-lgb-and-q-help-us
By Amanda Kerri
October 22 2018
There will be a thousand articles written about Trump’s plan to make it government policy that transgender people don’t exist. Some will explain what’s happening, why it’s happening, and how. Some will attack conservatives and Trump, some will attack those who enabled and empowered them through inaction or lack of concern for anyone but themselves. I can’t write those articles.
I already wrote them. I’ve already called the GOP a hate group, I’ve already called out hypocritical allies, I’ve gone after people condoning casual transphobia, warned of radical evangelicals changing the government, and I’ve laid into “progressives” who will throw us under the bus. Almost to the day, I warned about the “unpersoning” of trans people by the Trump administration a full year ago. To borrow a phrase from black folks, “We done told y’all.”
But here we are. The End. It’s not about bathrooms or celebrities, it’s not about pronouns or dating or anything of the sort, it’s just the end of us. Trump’s government is going to make it state policy that we simply do not exist. Literally every right and protection we had won before is gone. No, this is not hyperbole, we are not overreacting, this is their stated goal and not even in vague terms. We are not trying to distract you from something else, we are not trying to divide the left, we are just trying to survive. You have to understand, this isn’t just going to force us into the wrong bathrooms; people will be able to deny us medical care, access to homeless shelters, the right to work and put food in our mouths.
I’m at the point now where I can’t yell in anger about this. I can’t freak out. I’m just tired. All of us transgender people are tired. We have fought and fought and fought, and with a few memos and policy changes the rights we were given by the Obama administration are gone. Poof. Pencil-whipped out of existence. Yeah, we’re gonna keep fighting because we have been fighting, we’ve been fighting this whole time literally and nothing has changed in this regard because there wasn’t even a cease-fire called; so please don’t tell us to fight back. What the hell do you think we’ve been doing for our whole lives?
At this point we’re trying to hold our lines because we’re about to get overrun. I could write up one of those “Go Vote, Call Your Congressman” type articles, but I can barely even muster the will to write this sentence, much less punch out a thousand words on the importance of voting and civic engagement. You should already know how important it is already and if you don’t I can’t even wrap my head around that anymore. There is no point in slippery slope warnings or comparisons to monsterous times or places in our past, we see it in so many other things.
I’m at the point now where all I can muster is: “Help us.”
Continue reading at: https://www.advocate.com/commentary/2018/10/22/trans-plea-lgb-and-q-help-us
October 21, 2018
This morning, the New York Times broke the story that the Department of Health and Human Services under the Trump administration is “[considering] defining transgender out of existence” — specifically, enshrining a definition of gender within the federal government that ties it immutably to sex as assigned at birth (as documented by a birth certificate “as originally issued”), with no recognition of an individual’s self-determined gender later in life.
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.
The NYT appears to have drawn this information from a memo circulating within the DHHS, which argues for these changes but does not make them official. It isn’t confirmed that the Department will go forward with this; even if they do, the Departments of Education, Justice, Health and Human Services, and Labor would also have to accept this definition for it to be uniformly applied in higher-up government policy. In terms of legal understandings of trans identity in the courts, the Department of Justice is the most important factor; although it is technically possible that the DOJ could part ways on the issue, the department’s history on trans issues under Jeff Sessions leaves little hope for that possibility. The issue is expected to be presented to the DOJ by the end of the year.
There’s little to draw on as far as legal precedent to understand the specifics of how this would work; it’s unusual to say the least for a government agency to “define” such a fundamental cultural concept out of nowhere. Although the Obama administration issued guidance on legal interpretations for courts regarding sex and gender, they generally functioned as guidance, not commandments. In recent legal memory, previous to the repeal of DOMA the federal government did have a definition of marriage as “between one man and one woman,” it was tied into a specific law, the Defense of Marriage Act, passed by conference. Like so much of what the Trump administration has done, this move appears to be an attempt to circumvent Congress and the courts and force through a bigoted agenda. Also like so much of what the Trump administration has done, it’s so unexpected and confusing that it’s hard to say how specifically it will play out.
By Lily Rothman
October 4, 2018
These days, and especially since the deadly rally in Charlottesville, Va., last August, it has become clear to many Americans that the specter of Nazism in their country is not resigned to 1930s history. But until very recently, even that part of the story was less well known than it is today.
In fact, when Bradley W. Hart first started researching the history of Nazi sympathy in the United States a few years ago, he was largely driven by the absence of attention to the topic. Hart’s new book Hitler’s American Friends: The Third Reich’s Supporters in the United States argues that the threat of Nazism in the United States before World War II was greater than we generally remember today, and that those forces offer valuable lessons decades later — and not just because part of that story is the history of the “America First” idea, born of pre-WWII isolationism and later reborn as a slogan for now-President Donald Trump.
“There’s certainly a raw and visceral shock to seeing swastikas displayed in American streets,” Hart tells TIME. “But this is a topic I’d been working on for quite a while at that point, and while it wasn’t something I expected, it was a trend I’d been observing. I wasn’t terribly shocked but there’s still a visceral reaction when you see that kind of symbolism displayed in the 21st century.”
Hart, who came to the topic via research on the eugenics movement and the history of Nazi sympathy in Britain, says he realized early on that there was a lot more to the American side of that story than most textbooks acknowledged. Some of the big names might get mentioned briefly — the radio priest Father Charles Coughlin, or the highly public German American Bund organization — but in general, he says, the American narrative of the years leading up to World War II has elided the role of those who supported the wrong side. And yet, American exchange students went to Germany and returned with glowing reviews, while none other than Charles Lindbergh denounced Jewish people for pushing the U.S. toward unnecessary war. In its various expressions, the pro-Nazi stance during those years was mostly focused not on creating an active military alliance with Germany or bringing the U.S. under Nazi control (something Hitler himself thought wouldn’t be possible) but rather on keeping the U.S. out of war in Europe.
Continue reading at: http://time.com/5414055/american-nazi-sympathy-book/
From The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/22/health/transgender-trump-biology.html
By Denise Grady
Oct. 22, 2018
Defining gender as a condition determined strictly by a person’s genitals is based on a notion that doctors and scientists abandoned long ago as oversimplified and often medically meaningless.
Researchers who have studied gender issues and provided health care to people who do not fit the typical M/F pigeonholes said that the Trump administration’s latest plan to define gender goes beyond the limits of scientific knowledge.
“The idea that a person’s sex is determined by their anatomy at birth is not true, and we’ve known that it’s not true for decades,” said Dr. Joshua D. Safer, an endocrinologist and executive director of the Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery at Mount Sinai Health System in New York. He is also president of the United States Professional Association of Transgender Health.
But exactly what does determine gender identity — a person’s powerful, core knowledge of who they are — is not so clear.
“We know that there is a significant, durable biological underpinning to gender identity,” Dr. Safer said. “What we don’t know are all of the biological factors at play that explain gender identity. As far as we in the mainstream biological-medical community understand it in 2018, it is hard-wired, it is biological, it is not entirely hormonal, and we do not have identified genes, so we cannot specifically say it is genetic.”
Genetics does play a role, though. In studies of twins, if one is transgender, the other is far more likely to also be transgender if they are identical, rather than fraternal twins. Identical twins are near matches, genetically; fraternal ones are not. The findings are similar for twins who have Type 1 diabetes, which is known to have a strong genetic component.
The Trump administration’s proposal, outlined in a memo by the Health and Human Services Department, would 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. The change would eliminate protections afforded transgender people under the Obama administration.
The agency’s proposed definition would be determined by the genitals that a person is born with, according to a draft reviewed by The New York Times. Whatever is on the birth certificate defines gender, “unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence,” according to the memo.
But what would constitute reliable evidence?
Continue reading at: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/22/health/transgender-trump-biology.html
By Masha Gessen
October 22, 2018
On Sunday, the Times reported that the Trump Administration plans to change federal civil-rights law to include a definition of sex as “a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth.” The language, if adopted, would mean that the federal government would effectively stop recognizing the very possibility of a person being transgender or intersex.
For the Administration and its supporters, the move reverses what the right sees as executive overreach that, during the Obama Administration, expanded the rights of transgender people. Among the Obama-era moves were guidelines, issued by the Department of Education, in May, 2016, that directed school administrators to recognize students’ gender identity regardless of the sex indicated in their documents and to enable students to use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity. Trump’s Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, revoked these guidelines almost as soon as she was confirmed. Trump’s campaign had promised to return Americans to an imaginary past that was both greater and simpler, and reversing gains in transgender rights was consistent with that promise. It stands to reason that news of potential sweeping changes to civil-rights law would emerge on the eve of the midterm elections.
The Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services is now run by a man named Roger Severino, whose last job was as the director of the Heritage Foundation’s DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society. In that capacity, Severino repeatedly wrote about the dangers of “gender ideology,” a term that for years now has been used to mobilize extreme social conservatives worldwide. “Gender ideology” refers to an imaginary Marxist movement to erase differences between men and women. The spectre of “gender ideology” was used in a successful campaign in Australia to scrap a government program called Safe Schools, which was designed to make schools safer for L.G.B.T.I.Q. students. “Gender ideology” was the enemy the Hungarian government was fighting when it revoked recognition of gender-studies degrees this month. These changes, like the attacks on transgender rights in the United States, are politically expedient and logical: reversing the most recent and most rapid social change makes it seem like the promise of a return to the imaginary past will be fulfilled.
But, for transgender and intersex people, having rights taken away is just not a return to a time before those rights were gained. It is worse. It is traumatic. It can have the effect of leaving people exposed because they don’t have a closet to return to. It can create absurd legal situations—if, for example, state-issued identity documents are not recognized by the federal government. The revocation of rights feels violent because it is violent, in part because the effort is aimed at preventing the rights from being reclaimed. It is probably for this purpose that draft changes to the law include a proposal for genetic testing to determine sex, according to the Times. James Hamblin, a writer for The Atlantic, interpreted this provision as “proposing widespread genetic testing and keeping records of citizens’ genitals.”