The Trump administration’s latest outrage is its attempt to erase Transgender people. The kind of fascism that Trumpism practices does not affect everyone equally. It picks and chooses. It has chosen immigrants who, with or without papers, no longer have control of their lives, are taken off the streets and thrown into jails, children taken from parents, and people deported before they have a chance to fight back. It has targeted Blacks by empowering neo-Nazi white nationalists, taking restraints off police, gutting prison reforms, and promoting racism. It has picked women by appointing anti-abortion fanatics to key positions, attacking birth control, spewing sexism and making a mockery of sexual harassment and rape.
TRUMPISM SPEWS VIOLENCE
Now it has chosen to dehumanize a group of people whose whole lives have often been fraught with brutal violence and discrimination, those who are Transgender. These past weeks have shown us what it means when Trump singles out, attacks and belittles groups of people: pipe bombs are sent to those who dare to criticize him; Black people are murdered in grocery stores; and Jews are gunned down in their place of worship in yet another mass killing. Transgender people already face a massive amount of violence and murder. Trump has just made sure it will get worse.
Trump’s tactic this time is to declare that Trans people do not exist by completely subverting the spirit of Title IX, enacted in 1972. Title IX states: “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
This administration is attempting to erase Transgender people by declaring—against scientific knowledge and lived experience—that “Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth,” and that “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.” The New York Times states that “The new definition would essentially eradicate federal recognition of the estimated 1.4 million Americas who have opted to recognize themselves—surgically or otherwise—as a gender other than the one they were born into,” or to be more accurate, the one “sex” that some doctor decides for them.
What will such legislation mean for those who are born with genitalia that are ambiguous? Will their parents be ordered to operate on them? Will the state step in and decide what “sex” they should be? The way the order was formulated denies that such children even exist, but they do, and it is now known that sex is not a question of one sex or the other but a continuum; nor does it take into account of the by now well-documented phenomenon of people whose gender may be different from their genitalia.
A STEALTH ATTACK ON ABORTION RIGHTS?
And what about the ominous language that what “sex” a “child” is can be “identifiable by or before birth”! Will women be forced to have ultrasounds to determine what “sex” their fetus is? Will the police be present in delivery rooms to make sure the doctor writes down “male” or “female” on all birth certificates? This is happening at a time when even the Olympic Committee cannot figure out whether an athlete is a man or a woman. Is “sex” decided by genitalia, chromosomes, hormone levels, all, or something totally different? And is this language just one more way to claim that a fetus is a “person” because it has a “sex”?
It is fascism when a government blatantly assumes the right to control people’s bodies as this one has done. Forced pregnancy is the other side of forced abortion. Now Trumpism is seriously contemplating forced sexuality. This declaration from the state flies in the face of science; if it is based on religion it is illegal; it appears to be a declaration by the government about what male and female mean. Fascism is also when you have the state declaring, under force of law, something is true when it is not.
Since this would be an executive order, the only way to challenge it legally is through the courts—courts that the Trump administration has made a priority of stacking with extreme right-wing ideologues. Make no mistake; while this is a completely reactionary step against Trans people it is also a part of an effort to put everyone back in what the right sees as their “correct” gender jail. That’s one reason the religious right leaders care about it so much. They’d like to burn all people who are LGBTQI, and along with that, they want all women gagged and back in the kitchen. The counter-revolutionaries will keep launching these attacks as long as we live in a fundamentally sexist and heterosexist society. Fighting back cannot be separated from projecting the needed revolutionary change to establish a new society with totally new human relations.
Trumpism is counting on Trans people fighting this battle alone. Certainly the Left, including feminism, has to prove them wrong. This attack must be stopped.
–Terry Moon for the Resident Editorial Board of News and Letters Committees
October 28, 2018