Multiple States Demand Civil Rights Protections for Transgender People

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3D illustration by Quince Media

A group of 20 state Attorneys General demanded the Trump administration to end its efforts that would undermine civil rights protections for transgender and gender nonconforming individuals.

On Monday, the coalition of Attorneys General sent a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos regarding the issue.

In the letter, they expressed their “deep concern” over reports that the agencies are considering changing the definition of “sex” to exclude transgender and gender nonconforming people from the protections of civil rights laws.

Last month, it had been reported that the HHS proposed that sex should be defined as “a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth.” The HHS was reportedly encouraging other agencies including the Education Department to adopt its proposal.

Federal government is sending “dangerous message”

The coalition of Attorneys General encouraged Azar and DeVos to reject the proposal. They emphasized that the HHS’ proposed definition of sex is “inconsistent with current medical consensus.”

With such proposal, the federal government is sending a “dangerous message” that the transgender community as “unworthy” of civil rights protections, according to the Attorneys General.

They noted that there are approximately 1.4 million transgender individuals in the United States. Many others do not conform to traditional gender norms. The transgender community “had suffered and continues to suffer from persecutions and discrimination.”

A number of states and localities enacted civil rights protections for transgender and gender nonconforming people. However, many jurisdictions still do not have meaningful protections for them.

“Our federal laws and policies should promote basic principles of nondiscrimination and inclusion rather than single out people for disparate treatment and exclusion,” they said.

In conclusion, the Attorneys General stressed that the Trump administration’s attempt to narrow the definition of sex…is really nothing more than discrimination for its own sake and thus contrary to basic principles of equal protection.”

State Attorneys General vowed to fight for civil rights protections for everyone

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey led the coalition encouraging Azar and DeVos to end the efforts to adopt a restrictive and discriminatory federal definition of sex.

In a statement, Healey said, “My office will continue to stand up for basic civil rights for all of our residents. We urge the federal government to join us in protecting transgender individuals, not adding to persistent discrimination and bullying.”

On the other hand, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood commented, “The Trump administration is attempting to write transgender Americans out of existence. This policy is deeply cruel and simply unacceptable – and my office will do everything in our power to protect the rights of transgender and gender nonconforming New Yorkers.”

Earlier this month, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, said, “This latest proposal contradicts the values of equality that our nation was built on. What’s worse, it threatens the health, job security, and education of our community members. We urge the Trump Administration to abandon these harmful and discriminatory efforts, and we stand ready to protect the civil rights of all Americans.”