Sarah Grace Goolden
The Trump administration is currently considering defining gender in a way that would categorize it as a biological condition that is decided at birth based on genitalia. Human beings would once again be reduced to checking either the ‘female’ or ‘male’ box and that would be unchangeable, even through surgery. This would directly affect trans men, women and non-binary individuals.
The government has zero right to tell people their own feelings about their respective identity. Gender is such a broad concept and it would be very difficult, maybe impossible, to condense it into a definition. It is not something as simple as eye color. It is fluid and may be different for everyone. By reducing gender to whatever exists between your legs, the Trump administration is directly and purposefully attacking non-cis people, who deserve the same rights as everyone else.
Some might be wondering why this is a big deal. After all, it’s just a definition, right? They’re still able to exist even if the government doesn’t recognize their identity. The problem lies in what this would mean for trans, intersex and non-binary people. It would affect how they are treated by the Department of Education, Justice, Health and Human Services and Labor.
It would mean students are not protected in schools and colleges if they experience a problem based on their gender identity. It would affect queer people at work and at hospitals. This is not a matter of semantics; it is a matter of disrupting people’s daily lives because of something they cannot control.
The reasoning is to come up with a definition “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.” Clear and precise definitions are a good thing; they provide clarity and certainty in situations that may be murky otherwise. Murder is divided into three degrees because it varies in extremity. This is important in legal cases. However, gender is different. It cannot be broken down into just male or female. It is not static. It is not a precise science. More important than that, it should not have to be.
Gender expression does not hurt anyone. Transgender people living their lives does not cause harm. There is no need to define gender. It is hurting more than helping.
Let’s focus on the need to make gender “biological.” Gender does not need to be biological, because sex already is. Sex refers to the anatomy of one’s sexual organs. There, that’s your medical definition. It already exists. It appeases health providers and still allows for a differing gender identity.
Defining gender only hurts people. There is already a stigma against non-cis people. To define them out of existence only further perpetuates that they are “abnormal” or “unnatural.” The Declaration of Independence ensures citizens the right to “the pursuit of Happiness.” To strip gender expression away from America is to strip people of their right to their pursuit of Happiness.
Trans and non-binary people have existed for forever. Despite its recent coverage in the media, the concept of gender not being strictly male or female is not a new one. In Ancient Greece, Phrygia and in the Roman Republic, a group of people castrated themselves and thereon after they began dressing like and referring to one another as female.
Native Americans have what they call Third Gender, which is an identity that is not male or female. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera were two transgender women of color and they fought for the very rights LGBTQ+ people have today. Gay cis folks cannot stand idly by while our trans brothers and sisters are under attack. They fought for us and too often, we ignore the T.
Transgender people are people. Non-binary people are people. They deserve the same rights as those who fall within their assigned gender. Defining gender is an attack on human beings. Everyone, especially queer people, need to be aware of the erasure that is taking place as we speak.