Ninety-eight House Democrats led by
Massachusetts Representative Joseph Kennedy III are calling on
President Donald Trump to drop a plan to define gender by a person's
genitalia at birth.
Such a move would have the chilling
effect of excluding transgender people from protections in existing
federal civil rights law.
proposed rule change would “define transgender out of existence.”)
According to The New York Times,
which broke the story, the Department of Health & Human Services
(HHS) is leading the effort to define “sex” under federal
non-discrimination laws to exclude transgender people.
“We write to you to express our
strong objections to reported efforts within your department to
eliminate the rights and protections of transgender Americans,” the
lawmakers wrote in a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “The
proposal to redefine the definition of 'sex' under Title IX to
specifically exclude transgender people is a brazen and targeted
attack on the lives of 2 million Americans, effectively abandoning
their right to equal access to health care, housing, education and
fair treatment under the law.”
“Adoption of this cruel and
unscientific definition of sex would undermine enforcement of civil
rights for millions, and we implore you to stop any attempt by
extremists within the Department of Health & Human Services to
infringe upon the dignity, rights and lives of transgender people.”
“Under this proposal, it is possible
for a transgender person to be denied access to medical care or
health insurance or be refused access to emergency shelter or public
housing, and transgender children could be denied access to public
education. This leaked proposal makes it clear members of this
administration are willing to disregard the established medical and
legal view of transgender rights and lives to solidify an archaic,
dogmatic and alarming view of the world,” the lawmakers added.
Facebook, Amazon, Uber denounce Trump's plan to end transgender
Out members of Congress who signed on
to the letter include Representatives Jared Polis of Colorado, David
Cicilline of Rhode Island, Mark Takano of California, Sean Patrick
Maloney of New York and Mark Pocan of Wisconsin. Representatives
Jackie Speier of California, Ted Lieu of California and Jerrold
Nadler of New York also signed the letter.
In a statement given to the
Blade, an HHS spokesperson said that it was bound to act by a
court ruling which found that the law did not protect people who are
transgender. The department did not mention that other cases have
found that transgender people are protected under the law.
“We do not comment on alleged, leaked
documents that purport to indicate the status of deliberations or the
focus of the department,” HHS spokesperson Caitlin Oakley said.
“The Obama administration’s broad definition of ‘sex’ was
enjoined by a federal court on a nationwide basis in December 2016
and the Obama administration did not appeal. That court found that
the Obama administration regulation was overbroad and inconsistent
with the text of the 1972 Title IX law prohibiting discrimination on
the basis of sex. The court order remains in full force and effect
today and HHS is bound by it as we continue to review the issue.
Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and HHS’s Office for
Civil Rights will continue to vigorously enforce all laws as written
and passed by Congress, prohibiting discrimination in healthcare on
the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, and
Jon Davidson, legal director at Freedom
for All Americans, disputed the claim that the Obama administration
did not appeal the ruling and that it remains in force.
“The same day that the Fifth Circuit
dismissed the appeal, the plaintiff states that filed the Texas v.
U.S. case dismissed their case because the Trump administration
withdrew the Obama administration policy and guidance that the states
were suing over,” Davidson
said. “As expressly stated in the Notice of Voluntary Dismissal
filed by the plaintiff states this dismissal ‘necessarily
dissolved’ the preliminary injunction, which is no longer in