This weekend, the New York Times revealed that the Trump administration was actively considering ways to strip rights from trans and gender non-conforming (GNC) Americans. One memo sent to the Department of Health and Human Services attempted to narrow the definition of gender so as to exclude trans people, which said in part, “The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.” That means that the genitalia you were born with would define how you were listed legally, regardless of how you identify. If you dispute this classification, then under the new guidelines you would be genetically tested. The HHS is seeking to make these definition changes under Title IX, which is supposed to prohibit discrimination based on gender.
Though it’s depraved, this isn’t the first time Trump and his administration have attacked trans and GNC rights: In May, it was announced that questions about gender and sexual orientation would not be included on the upcoming census. And in July of last year, Trump abruptly tweeted that he would ban trans folks from enlisting for military service, a move that even military leaders were largely unaware of prior to the announcement. (That ban was lifted by the Justice Department, though trans recruits reportedly still encounter barriers to actually signing up for duty.) All of which means that Trump has made it clear that he intends to roll back rights and protections for trans and GNC folks, constitutionality be damned. (For a full list of these attacks, the National Center for Transgender Equality has been keeping track.)
When the latest story dropped, social media was immediately flooded with outraged responses and calls for solidarity to defeat Trump’s hateful policies:
They can try all they want, but they cannot erase us.October 21, 2018
Heard about the latest attack on our community. Remember: we’re stronger together. Don’t run and hide. We have to be more visible and unified than ever! https://t.co/Ct3Pa29Jyj pic.twitter.com/kPtM8UpHrJOctober 22, 2018
This attempted erasure of trans lives is disgusting. They are literally trying to eliminate the already threatened livelihood of trans people. We exist! We always have, we always will.October 21, 2018
We must not give up the fight. But in the face of this affront on my existence and the existence of my community I choose love not fear. We exist and always have.Trump Administration Eyes Defining Transgender Out of Existence https://t.co/G4rKB1mVfeOctober 21, 2018
Attempts to marginalize the trans and GNC communities, like this latest attack from the Trump administration, leads to more stigmatization and higher risk of violence and economic disenfranchisement for those communities, which already face a higher rate of discrimination. According to a 2012 study from the National Center for Transgender Equality, 63 percent of respondents faced “serious discrimination,” which includes loss of jobs and housing due to bias, bullying, and physical and sexual assault.
Trans rights are human rights, which means an attack on trans and GNC folks is an attack on everyone. One of the most important ways you can tell this administration that you don’t support their hateful policies is to vote on November 6. (Here’s a guide to everything you need to know for the midterms.) For other action items, Out has a really helpful guide.
You should also make a point of supporting organizations that prioritize helping trans and GNC people. Here are a list of seven groups, in no particular order, that need your attention and material support:
- The National Center for Transgender Equality has a lot of projects that need support, including the Trans Legal Services Network (comprised of over 50 organizations that help with everything from navigating “the name and gender change process” to addressing legal needs) and Families for Trans Equality (which helps “ensure that all families with trans youth are being treated well, and that trans youth are able to live their lives with dignity and respect.”) To donate, go here.
- The Trans Justice Funding Project is a community-led funding initiative “to support grassroots, trans justice groups run by and for trans people.” To donate, you can head here. If you have a group that needs funding, you can apply for the project at this link (though be advised that the next grant cycle begins in December).
- Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund wants to end discrimination through “public education, test-case litigation, direct legal services, and public policy efforts.” You can donate here.
- Trans Student Educational Resources is a student-led organization that teaches trans and GNC youth how to be effective organizers, and seeks to end discrimination through advocacy and empowerment. You can donate or volunteer at this link.
- Even if you can’t afford to give money, the Tranzmission Prison Project needs soft-backed books for trans prisoners. To donate, you can find the address here.
- The TransWomen of Color Collective creates funds for trans and GNC projects and works to “create safe spaces for transgender and gender non-conforming people” where they can practice self-care, “educate and empower each other towards self-sufficiency,” and “share our history, celebrate and embrace who we are, and nourish our living legacy.” You can donate here.
- The Sylvia Rivera Law Project provides legal services with a focus on low-income trans and GNC people, and seeks to “increase the political voice and visibility of low-income people and people of color who are transgender, intersex, or gender non-conforming.” It works “through a collective structure built on the idea that our work should be by and for our community, and should be focused on maximizing political voice and power while providing desperately needed services.” You can donate to them here.
Make sure that after you donate you follow these organizations on social media and signal-boost as much as possible. Keep an eye out for chances to rally and protest in your area.
And whatever you do, don’t forget to vote.
Cady Drell is a writer, editor, researcher and pet enthusiast from Brooklyn.
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