WASHINGTON, DC (October 25, 2018)—We are distressed by the recent news of the Trump administration’s latest attempts to eliminate the legal recognition, rights, and protections of transgender and intersex Americans under federal civil rights law. According to a draft memo obtained by The New York Times, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is proposing a rigid definition of gender as legally unchangeable, and as strictly male or female based on a person’s genitalia at birth. The memo, which claims that all “key government agencies” need to adopt a “uniform definition” of gender, also proposes that any dispute about one’s sex would be clarified by genetic testing. This proposal conflicts with all that we know from medical science, history, and other highly respected fields. It promotes a harmful, violent, and completely false belief that there are only two sexes, that one’s sex is defined solely based on a binary, male-female system, that sex is determined by chromosomes and genitalia, and that this alone is what determines one’s gender. Decades of scientific evidence and research show this to not be the case. CSSP stands on the side of medical science, which tells us that there are more than two sexes, that there are more than two genders, and that sex and gender are not inherently linked.
This action by the federal government serves as yet another example that is emblematic of our nation’s backwards trajectory on civil rights, especially when it comes to the rights of LGBTQ+ Americans. In addition to the way in which this memo disregards factual information about what constitutes sex and gender, this proposal also completely disregards and undermines what we know to be true from our partners on LGBTQ+ issue areas, experts in the field of child well-being and child protection, and most importantly, from transgender and intersex individuals who are brave enough to share their stories.
As an organization that prides itself on supporting all children, youth, and families through a science- and evidence-based approach, we call on our partners to also voice their rejection of this memo and of this dangerous ideology. CSSP’s getREAL initiative, which helps systems and communities support the healthy sexual and identity development of all youth, particularly LGBTQ+ children and youth, reaffirms our commitment to ensuring that transgender and intersex individuals #WontBeErased and to transforming systems so that all people have equitable access to resources and supports that will allow them to thrive.
About CSSP. The Center for the Study of Social Policy is a national, non-profit policy organization that connects community action, public system reform, and policy change to create a fair and just society. We work to achieve a racially, economically, and socially just society in which all children and families thrive by translating ideas into action, promoting public policies grounded in equity, supporting strong and inclusive communities, and advocating with and for all children and families marginalized by public policies and institutional practices.