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The Trump administration’s attempt to rewrite gender is not enough to erase trans existence
In July 2017, protesters gather in Times Square near a military recruitment center to show their anger at President Donald Trump’s decision to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals from serving in the military. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
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As a trans woman living in Trump’s America, I have been repeatedly forced to grapple with the startling reality that our current administration seems intent on rolling back the already lacking protections that have been afforded to us in recent years. Only two years into his term, President Donald Trump has already attempted to ban trans individuals from serving in the military and challenged civil rights protections for trans people in the Affordable Care Act.

The Trump administration’s most recent effort to undermine trans rights, however, is perhaps the most nefarious. The administration is reportedly considering the implementation of rigid legal definitions of sex, which will conceptually erase the existence of transgender people completely, the New York Times reported Sunday.

According to the Times, the administration is actively considering a measure that would rewrite gender altogether, strictly defining gender “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.” This definition would limit “a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth,” and mandate genetic testing to prove otherwise.

This purported measure sends a disturbing message to trans individuals. It suggests our lived experiences are not enough to prove we exist. It implies we are liars, and ultimately perpetuates a false narrative of delusion and mental illness.

For trans people, this definition would equate our experiences of gender to mere falsehoods. Many of us have carved out our own identities in ways that have not been granted to us in any biological capacity — through hormone therapies, surgeries, changes to our presentation, changes to our names and more.

The Trump administration’s anti-trans initiative is not simply attack on the trans community, it is an attack on self-determination. Attempting to limit gender to an arbitrary biological definition is a major blow to the 1.4 million Americans who identify as trans and whose experiences deviate from normative narratives of gender and identity, and it sets a dangerous precedent for how genetic testing can be used to limit the rights of minority groups in America.

For trans people, our identities and presentations are not biologically determined. They are the results of the physical and emotional manifestations our own destinies, in the hopes of pursuing for more authentic, fulfilling lives.

From a legal standpoint, this measure is terrifying. But do not let the panic and worry fool you into believing, even for a moment, that any federal definition can actually erase our truths. As long as there have been people, there have been trans people — even before the word “transgender” was culturally recognized. Regardless of any legal designation, trans identities are not up for debate or renegotiation. Trans people are real. Our existence is proof enough.