Last week, the Trump Administration’s move to consider new regulations regarding how a person’s sex would be portrayed on government documents and identification was reported by The New York Times. In response to the change from Obama-era regulations, an article titled “No, Donald, you cannot erase the trans community” was published in The Suffolk Journal.
In the article, the author, Nick Viveiros argues that the Trump Administration’s move to define sex as, “a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth” is a direct, bigoted attack on the transgender community’s “right to exist.” This broadside attack could not be further from the truth, and the logic that undergirds the belief that a person can change their sex is void of scientific reality.
Sex, as defined by the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO), is the “biological characteristics that define humans as male or female.” A male is of the male sex because he is born with XY chromosomes, a female is a female because she was born with XX chromosomes. One cannot change their chromosomes or their sex because they are immutable factors in a human’s DNA.
Viveiros argues that the binary of sex is debunked by the existence of intersex people- people that are born with the opposite DNA that they have the physical characteristics of. Again, this is taking genetic outliers, which the WHO deems “outside of the typical definition for male or female bodies” and attempting to apply their case to the larger issue at hand. For example, arguing that humans are designed to be born with 11 toes per foot is not true, simply because one person has 11, and not the standard 10.
Acknowledging the scientific fact that a person cannot change their sex is not bigoted, it does not deny a transgender or intersex person’s existence; it is simply an acknowledgment of biological reality. Just as the person with 11 toes, intersex and transgender people are entitled to the same rights and privileges of non-transgendered or non-intersex people.
When it comes to the supposed “real phenomenon” of vast swaths of children identifying as transgender as young as the ages of five that are not just going through a “phase,” once again the facts do not bear out.
A study from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health found that up to 94 percent of boys and 88 percent of girls that experience gender dysphoria (the clinical term for transgenderism) in childhood, do not experience it in adulthood. Again, that does not deny the existence of the adults that experience gender dysphoria, it simply rebukes the notion that gender dysphoria is an immutable characteristic of humans, unlike sex.
The Trump Administration’s new definition of sex gets rid of the scientifically inaccurate definition from the Obama Administration, nothing more and nothing less. It does not deny the existence of transgender people, intersex people or any member of the LGBTQ+ community.
President Trump was the first to take office openly in favor of same-sex marriage and drew a surprising amount of support from the LGBT community during his campaign, with “Gays for Trump” becoming a prominent voice on the right. Framing people who disagree with you on policy as discriminatory and bigoted is a bully tactic and a lazy way of defending your opinion. It is a sad day in America when the argument for your opinion is is that your opponent is a bad person. Facts matter, science matters and civility matters.