The Trump administration’s proposed policy to define gender according to biological sex is akin to other “dishonest” policies that have sought to justify harmful systems like slavery, according to a Thursday article published by Time magazine.
“People with a political agenda to peddle have been exceedingly dishonest, putting forth rubbish dressed up as science as a way of backing up often-pernicious ideas,” Time editor at large Jeffrey Kluger alleged in his Thursday piece. “The practice has long been a staple in justifying racial bias.”
He cites scientist Samuel George Morton who claimed cranium size and intelligence were linked. “Morton’s work had its political uses … [and] came in awfully handy for people who were looking for a way to justify slavery,” according to Kluger.
Time’s piece comes after a Sunday report indicated the Trump administration will define gender as determined “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable,” according to a memo obtained by The New York Times. The definition would define gender as either female or male, according to the person’s genitalia at birth.
“Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth,” the memo reads. Discrepancies would be determined by genetic testing, the memo indicates.
Transgender people have expressed outrage at the proposed policy. Transgender activist and actor Alexandra Billings wrote an open letter to President Donald Trump Monday, calling him a bully and vowing not to be silenced. Lifelong Republican Caitlyn Jenner voted for Trump in 2016, but tweeted at Trump that transgender people won’t be erased and announced Thursday that he no longer supports the president.
The policy would affect the status of transgender people serving in the military as well as transgender students. Since former President Barack Obama loosened the definition of Title IX, divisive battles have been fought over which bathroom students can use in school as well as what sports teams they can play on. Companies have adopted plans covering the cost of therapies and surgeries for transgender and transitioning employees. Some states have mandated that insurance companies pay for sex change operations and other cosmetic procedures.
A test determining gender “does not remotely exist. It likely never will,” according to Kluger. “X and Y chromosomes, however, tell you absolutely nothing about gender identity,” Kluger also alleged, noting that brain structure and hormones likely play a large role in gender identity.
Kluger calls the proposed policy “a neatly circular trap” that creates an impossible standard and seeks to end all conversation about gender identity.
The Department of Health and Human Services will present the new definition of gender to the Department of Justice by January 2019, according to Trump administration officials.
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