On October 21, The New York Times published an article entitled: “‘Transgender’ Could Be Defined Out of Existence Under Trump Administration.” This article revealed that the Department of Health and Human Services is actively working to establish a legal definition of “sex” which would legally classify our bodies based on the designation of genital appearance at birth, based on the coercive assignment and surgical decisions of doctors imposing dyadic standards on intersex infants, or based on genetic testing.
Title IX is a federal civil rights law banning gender discrimination as part of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, stating: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
The redefining of sex would directly impact the way that Title IX is interpreted and applied, effectively excluding transgender and intersex people from vital civil rights protections. This is one step in a continuing line of policies enforcing biological essentialism and classifying the United States populace based on cissexist, intersexist, heterosexist, misogynist, ableist, white supremacist, and colonist notions of bodies and identities.
The NYT article revealed that “For the last year, the Department of Health and Human Services has privately argued that the term “sex” was never meant to include gender identity or even homosexuality, and that the lack of clarity allowed the Obama administration to wrongfully extend civil rights protections to people who should not have them.”
This is not a surprise to those marginalized under the axes of gender and sexuality— we’ve long known we live in a world where the ruling classes do not believe we should have human rights. But this is a signal of warning to all of us to respond immediately. This is nothing short of systemic body terrorism inflicted on millions of people’s bodies.
The ideology of biological essentialism is inherently fascistic, relying on the premise that oppressed social classes are oppressed based on the “natural order” or “biological reality” of our bodies. Relying on biological categories and genetic testing to determine identity is something deemed necessary by cultures promoting eugenics. In cultures and communities which value all people, we would not need “evidence” behind identity categories because we would be collectively providing basic human rights to everyone. But in capitalist and fascistic societies, a necessary function is institutional eugenics which demands biological distinction between people to define who is worthy of care and who is disposable.
The fight against white supremacy, ableism, patriarchy, and cissexism are inextricably linked, and as antifascists, our fight includes protecting each other from the violence of body terrorism inherent in these systems. As revolutionary feminists, our fight includes defending bodily autonomy and self determination of marginalized people of all genders and all bodies.
We won’t stop fighting until we are all free.