Trump Administration’s New Plan Sparks Conversation and Tension

Giovanna Fernandez

All over the United States, members of the transgender community are in fear of being silenced once again as the Trump-Pence Administration plans to define them out of existence.

The Department of Health and Human Services is ready to propose their plan formally to the Department of Justice before the end of this year. The new definition states sex as “either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with.” If someone wanted to argue against this, they’d have to use genetic testing to prove their argument.

Since 2017, the percentage of the US population that identifies as transgender was about 0.6%, which makes up over 1.4 million citizens according to the Williams Institute of UCLA. Since Trump has taken his role as president, many Obama-era policies that had protected the transgender and gender nonconforming community have been undone. Considering this, there is a frightening probability that this new policy can pass through the Department of Justice which would result in over 1.4 million Americans not recognized by the federal government.

The government reasons that the law protecting sex discrimination in educational programs, Title IX, was misinterpreted and therefore wrongfully extended to the transgender community under Obama’s presidency. Since 2016, they have continuously used this argument to support their advances towards redefining sex.

With that, the most visible battleground would become schools. Out of the population of youth in the United states, a 2017 study by the Williams Institute of UCLA concluded that 150,000 American teens from ages 13-17 identify as transgender. The new definition would take back the small taste of equality they just had.

Mason Juarez, a senior and president of the Gay Straight Alliance at Los Altos said, “I personally believe that this is wrong. There most definitely will be a noticeable impact on our youth since so many are figuring out their gender identities. If this passed, the transgender and gender nonconforming community wouldn’t feel valid.”

A national survey done by GLSEN, a major organization that strives to protect the lives of LGBT youth, estimated that 75% of transgender youth feel unsafe at school. It’s possible that this huge step can put the safety of these teens at risk and make them more of a target for harassment.

“The definition should not be as narrowed as they’re making it. Gender is a spectrum, and there is no one way to be, male or female or in between. Transgender and gender nonconforming people deserve to be who they truly are. Trump is changing something he has no knowledge about,” said Juarez.

Despite how many people are protesting for the protection of this community’s rights, the window of hope seems to be closing for many, considering the amount of actions already taken.

Freshman Jackie Moriel sees how complex the situation. “I’m neither opposed or against the plan at this point. Yes, it is possible that this can open doors to more discrimination against the transgender community, but it doesn’t seem like there’s much stopping people can do. They are going to propose the plan, and the changes are already being undone by the Trump administration, so it’s clear the majority are jumping on board,” she said.

Although it seems like a hopeless situation, it’s always possible to strive for change.

“It’s clear that all of these strong organizations like the Human Rights Campaign, ACLU, and Lambda Legal are trying to take action against the proposal. Even with all of their energy, there’s a probability that the justice department will pass the new idea. If it does, the brave transgender community can still fight back for their rights like they always do,” said Moriel.