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Opinion & Editorial

Transgender Memo: Who Are We to Judge?

President Obama lights White House in rainbow colors following SCOTUS’ legalization of gay marriage (Flickr). 

 

Our country has aspired to uphold its early core values of justice and equality since its beginnings. While these principles were first reserved for white male property owners, the Constitution proved to be a living document that could expand these principles of fairness to others. The Fourteenth Amendment established the Equal Protection clause that gave minorities a legal footing in their fight for egalitarianism. If we are indeed a democracy that “hold(s) these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” we must again widen this axiom to our LGBT community.

Over 11 million American adults identify as as LGBTQ+ (2018), according to estimates from Gallup, a research-based consulting company in existence since 1935.

Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama recognized the rights of this minority, yet the man who currently sits in the Oval Office refuses to do so.

June is recognized as Pride Month, in commemoration of the Stonewall Riots that occurred in June of 1969, when members of the gay community held demonstrations in response to the violent confrontation between police and guests of New York’s Stonewall Inn nightclub. Mirroring Clinton’s 2000 executive order, President Obama formally declared June as LGBT Pride month during every year of his presidency.

In his 2016 Presidential Proclamation, Obama affirmed their “sweeping progress by changing hearts and minds and by demanding equal treatment-under our laws, from our courts, and in our politics.” He correctly pointed out that our country is devoted to an “unending path toward becoming a more perfect Union.”

Or are we?

In a series of callous tweets, President Trump announced a ban on transgenders in the military (2017).

The administration also withdrew questions from the 2020 census regarding gender identity in March of the same year.

But most recently, The New York Times reports that a leaked memo from the White House suggests that the administration is working with the Department of Health and Human Services to restrict one’s sex to the biological assignment at birth, strictly male or female.

The drafted memo says, “Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth.” It later dictates the undisputable sex of the person “unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.”

This memo contradicts several scientific studies regarding gender and sex. Dr. Anne Fausto-Sterling, a professor at Brown University, says, “What matters, then, is not the presence or absence of a particular gene but the balance of power between gene networks acting together or in a particular sequence. This undermines the possibility of using a simple genetic test to determine ‘true’ sex.”

By altering the legal definition of sex under Title IX, which is a federal law that protects Americans from discrimination “on the basis of sex,” the Department of Health and Human Services is practically wiping away the initial progress of Obama-era policies.

During his two terms, Obama lifted bans that initially discriminated against the LGBTQ+ community. His legacy allowed Americans to choose the way in which they preferred to identify.

By reviewing such a proposal, the administration is rejecting at least 1.4 million transgender Americans. The memo is a serious concern for these Americans, because it will undermine federal recognition and legal protection.

One of the largest constitutional arguments surrounding disputes such as these is, “Should one be required under law to participate in something with which one does not agree?” In the case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of the cake-shop owner, who said that baking a wedding cake for a gay couple violated his First Amendment rights, specifically freedom of religion.

The Bible is a complex book of conflicting texts. Scriptures have been used throughout history to justify human oppression. One need only look to the antebellum South where preachers defended slavery, citing Ephesians 6:5: “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.”

If one uses biblical scripture to determine the morality of transgenders or any other member of the LGBTQ+ community, a fellow Christian can also use the Book to demonstrate God’s great love and acceptance: I John 4:19-21,  “We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

We do not live in a theocracy that is bound to a religious text. We live in a democracy that is bound to a constitution committed to basic human rights. These rights must be ensured to all minorities, including our LBGTQ community.

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August 18, 2019