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Administration’s Attempt to Rollback Transgender Protections
Flies in the Face of a Century of Anthropological Evidence
The Trump administration’s hate-filled attempt to narrowly define gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth is an outrageous government-wide effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people that defies a century of anthropological evidence from cultures throughout history and around the globe. It is a short-sighted step in the wrong direction and completely out of step with the American public, 69 percent of whom support LGBT nondiscrimination laws that cover employment, housing, and public accommodations.
It’s misguided, and a violation of the 14th amendment, but it is not surprising. The Trump Administration has piled up an alarming list of anti-LGBT actions in the past two years, including an attempt to ban people who are transgender from serving in the military, prohibiting the CDC’s use of the word “transgender,” and bringing to a grinding halt the addition of sexual orientation and gender identity questions to federal surveys to capture health and demographic data about LGBT people.
The importance of robust and unambiguous non-discrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity cannot be overstated. Gender pluralism –a means of including all sex/gender identities within the realm of plausible identities – has been shown to be useful in supporting peoples' autonomy, self-determination and overall well-being. It is of benefit to the transgender community and society as a whole.
The Administration floated this draft regulation as a trial balloon to see what kind of reaction it would receive. As anthropologists who study both the biology of humankind and the variety of human culture, we can state categorically that this proposed rule is not based on cultural evidence or any sort of understanding of the nature of gender. It is based on intimidation, harassment, hatred, and oppression. The American people are better than that. We are a nation of many, and our future will be better when we embrace a more inclusive culture of tolerance and understanding.