From the November-December 2018 issue of News & Letters
by Terry Moon
The Trump administration’s latest outrage is its attempt to erase Transgender people. Trump’s fascism picks and chooses. It chose immigrants who, with or without papers, no longer have control of their lives, are grabbed from the streets and thrown into jails, children taken from parents, and people deported before they have a chance to fight back. It targets Blacks, empowers neo-Nazi white nationalists, takes restraints off police, guts prison reforms, and promotes racism. It picks women, 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 chooses to dehumanize people whose lives have often been fraught with violence and discrimination, those who are Transgender.
His tactic this time is to declare that Trans people do not exist by subverting the spirit of Title IX, enacted in 1972. It 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 Trans 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… recognize themselves…as a gender other than the one they were born into.”
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 order was formulated to deny that such children exist, but they do. Sex is not a question of one sex or the other but a continuum; nor does the order take into account the reality of people whose gender may be different from their genitalia.
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? 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 those, or something totally different? Is this language one more way to claim that a fetus is a “person” because it has a “sex”?
It is fascism when a government assumes the right to control people’s bodies. Forced pregnancy is the other side of forced abortion. Trump’s declaration of forced sexuality ignores facts; if it is based on religion it is illegal. It is a false declaration by the government about what male and female are. Fascism is also when you have the state declaring, under force of law, something is true when it is not.
The only way to legally challenge an executive order is through the courts—now stacked with right-wing ideologues. This completely reactionary step against Trans people is also an effort to put everyone back in what the Right sees as their “correct” gender jail. They’d like to burn all people who are LGBTQI, and want all women gagged and in the kitchen. 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. The Left, especially feminism, has to prove them wrong. This attack must be stopped.