On Monday, the president said he wants to “protect the country,”when asked about a proposed policy limiting the federal definition of gender to biological sex.
As Donald Trump prepared for a trip to Houston, reporters asked him about a recent New York Times report claiming the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is preparing to issue a memo that would effectively erase trans people in federal government policy.
If implemented, it would define gender as unchangeable and determined at birth.
The POTUS appeared to suggest the alleged memo was one of many proposals on the table in regards to the White House’s view on gender identity.
“We’re looking at it,” he said. “We have a lot of different concepts right now. They have a lot of different things happening with respect to transgender right now. You know that as well as I do, and we’re looking at it very seriously.”
When a reporter standing off-camera asked about his 2016 pledge to protect LGBTQ citizens if elected president, Trump dodged the answer.
“I’m protecting everybody,” he said in regards to a Republican National Convention speech touted by his own team as the first by a GOP presidential nominee to reference the LGBTQ community. “You know what I’m doing? I’m protecting everybody. I want to protect our country.”
TRUMP on his reported proposal to end federal protections for transgender people: "We're looking at it, we have a lot of different, ahhhhh…concepts right now. They have a lot of different things happening with respect to transgender right now…I want to protect our country." pic.twitter.com/Cn9BPxICD4
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 22, 2018
While accepting the Republican nomination for president, Trump vowed to “do everything in [his] power to protect our LGBTQ citizens.”
Critics say the opposite is true — it’s LGBTQ citizens who need protection from Trump.
Should the memo be implemented, it would greatly impact the ability of trans people to claim discrimination under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. That legislation bans discrimination in federally funded education programs.
Thus, if the federal government believes biological sex is the sole determinant of gender, a trans student would not be guaranteed access to a restroom appropriate to their gender identity in schools. They would have little recourse to file a civil rights complaint about teachers or staff members who use the incorrect name or pronouns.
The draft memo will be submitted to the Department of Justice (DOJ) by the end of the year. If accepted, it will be issued to the Departments of Labor and Education.
HHS has refused to comment as to the existence of the policy.
“We do not comment on alleged, leaked documents that purport to indicate the status of deliberations or the focus of the department,” a spokesperson for the department told media on Monday.
Roger Severino, director of the HHS Civil Rights Office, said federal agencies are still reviewing a 2016 injunction by Texas judge Reed O’Connor halting enforcement of trans health care protections. Under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, discrimination on the basis of gender identity is prohibited in federally funded health centers.
The White House is reportedly weighing whether to revoke nondiscrimination protections under the ACA altogether. A decision is expected soon.