We have taken major steps forward over the past years as a country with the legalization of gay marriage, the recognition of women’s rights, the tackling of workplace discrimination, the advances in science and medicine, among many other great successes.
We have banded together in times of need and in times of fear. We have grown as a country, leaned on each other, helped to pick our neighbors up and support each other. And yet, because of one drastic mistake made in 2016, those steps forward don’t seem as substantial due to the even bigger steps we are taking back.
Now more than ever we need to address these leaps backward. Citizens in the United States do not feel safe, supported or accepted as direct influence of President Donald Trump and his administration. In recent developments, we have learned that Trump’s administration is trying to narrow the definition of gender “as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth” . In other words, he is trying to change the definition of gender to mean solely the sex you were assigned at birth, making what was written on your birth certificate an unchangeable aspect of an individual’s identity. Thus, if this change goes through, it will erase the “federal recognition” of many who do not identify as the gender they were assigned at birth, which includes about 1.4 million Americans.
To break the situation down, if this change happens it will not allow for transgender or non-binary individuals to live their lives freely and fully themselves in America – the place that’s supposedly the “land of the free” where individuals are allowed to thrive and be themselves. This change would stop the process of transgender individuals receiving healthcare, from getting the gender they identify as on their driver license and other legal documents, and being recognized as their identified gender by the law. This change would destroy the little progress we’ve made in relation to bathroom laws and the changes in gender identity made in schools, homeless shelters, prisons, the workplace and other such areas – although this advancement still hasn’t translated to South Carolina, North Carolina and other states who still refuse to pass hate crime legislation which would protect many transgender individuals when victimized. Further, this change will erase whole groups of people and many will not feel safe or protected in the very place they call home.
Many individuals are frightened for their safety and their rights since the release of this information, but they will not be silenced. Transgender people have taken to social media with the hashtag #WontBeErased and protests and rallies have taken place across the United States, including in front of the White House the day after the information was released. Despite this shocking information, however, this is not the first time Trump and his administration have tried to silence the LGBTQ community, and limit or erase their rights. With plans to ban transgender individuals from military service and the Department of Health and Human Services not collecting information from LGBTQ participants in surveys, among other instances, it is not hard to see that with Trump in office LGBTQ rights are in danger.
Transgender, non-binary, intersex, among other individuals will not be erased, and they will not be silenced. Further, we, as a community and as a country can’t stand by and let this change happen. We can’t sit on the sidelines and watch this fight happen, we are all in this together. This isn’t a change that will only affect non-binary individuals or people in the LGBTQ community, but it is a change that will affect us all. If the rights and recognition of one group is taken away, when will Trump and his administration stop? We already know Trump’s views on minorities and women, so is anyone really safe?
There was a time when the United States was known as one of the best countries in the world. We were a place people could escape to for safety, to follow their dreams and create a new life. We were a safe haven, a dream, a place everyone was welcomed and a place everyone could be anyone they wanted to — but we haven’t seen that country in a long time, and we aren’t getting closer to that ideal country anytime soon with a man in office who continues to try to take away the rights and identity of individuals. We need a change, yes, but not a change in the definition of gender.
If you have want to know more on this topic, look into these helpful and informative New York Times Articles – ‘Transgender’ Could Be Defined Out of Existence Under Trump Administration and At Rallies and Online, Transgender People Say They #WontBeErased – and do more research through reliable articles and research. Join the fight and support individuals in the community and country by becoming knowledgeable on the topic.
Further, if you are feeling scared during this time the US Trans Lifeline Hotline (877-565-8860) is open from 10:00 AM to 4:00 AM EST for calls.