LGBTQ leaders across the U.S. and California reacted swiftly after a report that the Trump Administration is considering adopting a new definition of gender that could potentially deny federal recognition and civil rights protections to transgender Americans. The federal rule change would also limit the definition of gender to the sex one is assigned at birth.
Although the exact details of the plan have yet to be released, several LGBTQ advocates have since spoken out against the proposal including Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Rights, who said at a news conference today “we will stand up and be resilient, and we will be here long after this administration is in the trash heap.”
Shannon Minter, a transgender attorney with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, also called the reported plan a “cynical political ploy to sow discord and energize a right-wing base” before the Nov. 6 election.
While LGBTQ-rights leaders have certainly viewed this announcement as the latest Trump administration attack on transgender Americans, according to the LA Times, “The proposed rule change appears to be undergoing White House review and would need to be signed off by the departments of Justice, Labor and Education, which are also involved with civil rights enforcement.”
Despite considerable input from many supports of the movement across the country, perhaps none is more influential in the state of California than current State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco). As a proud member, outspoken supporter and leader of the LGBTQ community, Senator Wiener put out a statement saying, “By defining gender as birth-assigned gender only, the Trump Administration is trying to erase transgender people out of existence – consistent with the Administration’s effort to erase LGBT people from health surveys and the census. This action will have profound consequences. More trans children will commit suicide. More trans people will be assaulted and murdered. Trans people will be less healthy and less visible. Trump wants us to be invisible – to go away. We won’t go away. And, California will continue to fully embrace our trans brothers and sisters and LGBT people generally.”
Senator Wiener was successful in passing an entire slew of bills during the 2017-2018 legislative session, including legislation related to LGBTQ issues. In an interview this afternoon, Wiener told the California Globe that one of his most prominent proposals for the transgender community was California’s Gender Recognition Act where he served as lead co-author with Senator Toni Atkins. Signed into law on October 15, 2017, SB 179 makes it significantly easier for all transgender people living and born in California to obtain identity documents that reflect their gender. Under this new law, California became the second state in the country that offers a pathway for transgender to obtain a nonbinary gender marker on state documents.
On his way to passing SB 179, the Senator noted that current law created “onerous and unnecessary barriers for people who wish to apply for a change in gender on their state-issued identity documents. One of the most significant of these barriers is the requirement for a physician’s sworn statement certifying the extent of medical treatment received by the applicant during their gender transition. This requirement is problematic because not all transgender people have access to transition-related healthcare. Moreover, whatever steps are taken toward a gender transition have no bearing on someone’s gender identity.”
Furthermore, in relation to the current administration’s proposal, the Senator also told the California Globe that Trump continues to “pretend trans people don’t exist” before adding “This is the bottom line. California has gone in the opposite direction to embrace the transgender community to make it easier for them to live their lives.”
We will continue to cover details of the proposal as they emerge.
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