The Trump administration is looking into restricting the definition of gender to be based on a person’s genitalia at birth, the New York Times reported Sunday.
The Times obtained a memo that stated that the Department of Health and Human Services is seeking to define gender under Title IX, the law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender in educational institutions.
This would roll back the definition changed by the Obama administration to reflect gender as an individual’s decision, which extended more civil rights to transgender people. Some 1.4 million people have taken advantage of the Obama-era changes to be recognized as a gender different from the one they were assigned at birth.
The Trump administration memo recommended the government define gender “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.” Under the new guidelines, the only gender options would be male or female, and gender could not be changed over the course of a person’s life. Genetic testing would be used to determine a person’s gender, if need be.
“Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth,” the memo stated. “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 administration has already sought to narrow transgender rights by attempting to ban transgender individuals from military service and abruptly changing State Department language from “gender” to “sex” in reference to passports and not letting non-binary individuals have a non-binary gender designation on their passports.
Civil rights groups have been fighting against this change. “Transgender people are frightened,” Human Rights Campaign legal director Sarah Warbelow told the Times. “At every step where the administration has had the choice, they’ve opted to turn their back on transgender people.”