Can we still be startled by the cruelties of the Trump administration? Can we still find room for outrage after the separation of immigrant children from the parents, after the denial of climate change, after the mocking of sexual assault survivors? We must. The capacity for outrage is essential in order to stand up to further abuses of power and the insidious pollution of our public life. And outrage is what I feel as I read in the New York Times that the administration “is considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth, the most drastic move yet in a government-wide effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law.”
This would be a cruel decision, part of the effort erase transgender people by eliminating their civil rights protections. Recognition is essential to identity and to the protection of rights. The plans currently being considered by the Trump administration would be a huge setback for the broad pursuit of equity and inclusion.
As my friend, Wesleyan alumna and transgender activist, Jenny Boylan wrote:
I admit that I’m reluctant to react to this latest cruelty, which is obviously just one more cynical move clearly designed to stir the pot ahead of the election. Trans people are the latest conservative whipping girl, like African-Americans in the 1950s, or gay people in the 1990s and 2000s. Nothing is more dependable now than the passion the heartless display when trans people’s humanity is offered up for mockery […]
I have news for Donald Trump. I do exist. Trans men and women exist. Genderqueer people exist. We have been part of this country for hundreds of years — since before the Revolution, in fact. Redefining us won’t make us go away. It won’t restore your world to its precious, boring binary — which, I hate to tell you, never existed in the first place.
All it will do is make people suffer.
Can any good come out of this miserable moment? Well, I can hope that this will inspire people, more than ever, to fight back — not just trans people — but our spouses, and our children, and our allies, too. Their numbers will include people not unlike my late mother — conservative Republican women who just can’t stand to see their children bullied by the one person in the country who ought to be most concerned with keeping us all safe.
At Wesleyan we will fight back against any attempt to erase transgender people. We will stand by our transgender friends and colleagues, we will recognize them, acknowledge their struggles, and join with them to fight for equality. The stakes are high for all of us.