President Donald Trump’s new policy on sex and gender is a big defeat for the campaign by progressives and transgender activists to eliminate any civic or legal distinctions between biological females and biological males.
But the new policy does not reaffirm federal support for the long-standing civic and legal practice of defining men and women by their biology. Instead, it is silent on the revolutionary claim by gay and transgender activists that each person’s legal sex should be defined by their adopted “gender identity,” not by their biology.
That partial win for transgender groups was hidden behind shrieks of protest. Trump “is going after our kids. It doesn’t get any clearer than that,” claimed Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, according to TheDaily Beast.com, who headline read “Trump Lets States Bully Trans Kids.”
Mainstream and conservative groups welcomed Trump’s compromise statement. “We applaud President Trump’s administration for undoing the prior administration’s nonsensical ‘bathroom mandate,'” said Autumn Leva, policy director with Family Policy Alliance. She continued:
The privacy and safety of our students should always come first. The Trump Administration’s move demonstrates that it will not put any political agenda before our children.
The new Trump policy discards President Barack Obama’s policy, which required school officials to enforce claims by children and teenagers who say they have the “gender identity” of the opposite sex. In practice, this meant that school principals forced nearly all teenagers to comply with political speech codes abut sex, and also to share bathrooms, locker rooms and athletic teams with a few boys or girls of the opposite sex who say they are transgender.
Teenagers in at least two schools have rebelled against the gender-before-biology policy.
Advocates for gay groups are using the Obama directive to push the “gender identity” claim nationwide via the courts and state legislatures. In North Carolina, Virginia and elsewhere, the gay advocacy group have asking the courts to force all single-sex civic society groups and institutions — such as bathrooms — to admit people of both sexes, providing they claim to have a male or female “gender identity.”
A recent poll shows that this policy has the support of fewer than one-quarter of Americans. Nationwide, fewer than 1 in 2400 adults have changed their names from one sex to the other sex, according to a study of the 2010 census.
Trump’s policy discards Obama’s policy, but it does not formally reject the transgender ideology of gender over biology. According to the document,
In these [legally contested] circumstances, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice have decided to withdraw and rescind the above-referenced [Obama] guidance documents in order to further and more completely consider the legal issues involved …
… withdrawal of these [Obama] guidance documents does not leave students without protections from discrimination, bullying, or harassment. All schools must ensure that all students, including LGBT [T is for “transgender”] students, are able to learn and thrive in a safe environment. The Department of Education Office for Civil Rights will continue its duty under law to hear all claims of discrimination and will explore every appropriate opportunity to protect all students and to encourage civility in our classrooms. The Department of Education and the Department of Justice are committed to the application of Title IX and other federal laws to ensure such protection.
This guidance does not add requirements to applicable law.
Those comments suggest that career officials at the Department of Justice and the Department of Education — both of which include many holdovers from the Obama administration — want to help transgender groups establish the “gender identity” claim.
A statement from Betsy DeVos, the Secretary of Education, strongly suggests she wishes to create legal protections for people who say they are transgender.
We have a responsibility to protect every student in America and ensure that they have the freedom to learn and thrive in a safe and trusted environment. This is not merely a federal mandate, but a moral obligation no individual, school, district or state can abdicate. At my direction, the Department’s Office for Civil Rights remains committed to investigating all claims of discrimination, bullying and harassment against those who are most vulnerable in our schools…
This is an issue best solved at the state and local level. Schools, communities, and families can find – and in many cases have found – solutions that protect all students.
I have dedicated my career to advocating for and fighting on behalf of students, and as Secretary of Education, I consider protecting all students, including LGBTQ students, not only a key priority for the Department, but for every school in America.
We owe all students a commitment to ensure they have access to a learning environment that is free of discrimination, bullying and harassment.
Reportedly, DeVos opposed changes to Obama’s pro-transgender policy, but Attorney General Jeff Sessions persuaded Trump to drop support for Obama’s push to establish “gender identity.”
The administration’s silence about the underline issue — how to define sex — put the issue back in Congress, which passed the underlying laws barring sex discrimination which gay advocacy groups now seek to convert into pro-transgender laws.
However, most GOP member of Congress are not eager to protect current laws on sexual discrimination or to protect single-sex institutions. Instead, the GOP leadership is downplaying disputes over civic society as they try to forge compromises with Democrats over business issues, such as tax cuts.
In contrast to the administration’s silence, the gay and progressive groups stepping up the volume of their push for “gender identity.”
“What could possibly motivate a blind and cruel attack on young children like this?” said a statement from Chad Griffin, the president of the gay advocacy group, the Human Rights Campaign. He continued:
These transgender students simply want to go to school in the morning without fear of discrimination or harassment. The consequences of this decision will no doubt be heartbreaking. This isn’t a ‘states rights’ issue, it’s a civil rights issue. Children deserve protection from bullying no matter what state they live in. Period. The policies included in the rescinded guidance have existed in cities, states, and school districts — from Minneapolis to Fort Worth — for years, seamlessly and successfully affirming and welcoming transgender students in thousands of classrooms throughout the country. Every transgender student should know that, no matter what Donald Trump does or says, there are millions of people who will fight to stand up for them. We are proud to be among them.
The push to define a person’s legal sex by their “gender identity” instead of their biological sex continues in various states and courthouses. In North Carolina, for example, Democrats are looking to wipe out the HB2 law, in which the legislature defined sex via biology. For example, the law rejects the “gender identity” claim but says males and female can change their legal sex after undergoing surgery.
The Supreme Court is expected to hear a case on the issue, which is prompting mainstream conservative groups to ally with radical feminists groups who support the nation’s policy of using biology to distinguish between male and female. For example, the Family Policy Alliance joined with a radical feminist group, Women’s Liberation Front, to write an amicus brief to the Supreme Court.