The Trump administration is considering narrowing the definition of gender to “a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth,” reported the New York Times.
The Department of Health and Human Services is spearheading the effort to legally define sex under Title IX, the law that bans gender discrimination in federally-funded education programs.
The proposed definition would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by genitals from birth. Any dispute about sex would reportedly have to be clarified by genetic testing.
According to the NYT, the new definition would remove federal recognition of those who have opted to recognize themselves as a gender other than the one they were born, which makes up an estimated 1.4 million Americans.
The Department of Health and Human Services has called on the Departments of Education, Justice, Health and Human Services, and Labor – the “Big Four” that enforce Title IX – to adopt the definition in order to establish governmental uniformity and increase the likelihood of the courts accepting the definition.
Catherine E. Lhamon, who led the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights under former President Barack Obama, said the administration is trying to make gender identity irrelevant through the new definition.
“This takes a position that what the medical community understands about their patients – what people understand about themselves – is irrelevant because the government disagrees,” she said.
The definition “quite simply negates the humanity of people,” Lhamon added.
“Transgender people are frightened,” said Sarah Warbelow, the legal director of the Human Rights Campaign. “At every step where the administration has had the choice, they’ve opted to turn their back on transgender people.”
This definition is integral to two proposed rules currently under review. The first from the Department of Education deals with sex discrimination complaints in federally-funded schools and colleges. The second from the Department of Health and Human Services deals with health programs and activities that receive federal funds or subsidies.
Civil rights groups have been meeting with officials to argue against the proposed definition. Some officials hope the agency will reign in the most extreme aspects of the definition, like the call for genetic testing.
The department is preparing to formally present the definition to the Justice Department before the end of the year.