The Trump administration released a memo on Oct. 21 to the New York Times describing their consideration of defining gender as dictated by genitalia at birth. The proposed policies would counteract decisions previously made by the Obama administration that federally recognized preferred gender identity in prisons, schools, universities and homeless shelters, easing legal definitions of sex and gender. The LMU community’s response was largely against this proposed policy.
“The Trump/Pence administration’s threat to amend Title IX is not just another of the regime’s rolling back of civil rights, but is, in my opinion, unconstitutional,” Danielle Borgia, senior lecturer in women's and gender studies, said.
Title IX, according to the NCAA, protects people from discrimination based on sex in programs and organizations that receive Federal financial assistance.
According to the New York Times, the policy change would attempt to establish a legal definition of sex as either male or female and inalterable under Title IX. Those who identify as transgender or genderqueer would not be federally recognized and would not qualify for the protections provided by Title IX. Though no final decision has been made, if the legislation was to pass, it would negate federal recognition of 1.4 million Americans who identify as something other than the gender they were assigned at birth.
“Their goal is to restore every bit of the White supremacist capitalist patriarchy our country has started to dismantle in the last 100 years,” Borgia said. “I am terribly frightened by how much they have been allowed to accomplish in only two years.”
Amy Woodson-Boulton, history professor, shared similar views on how the proposed policy could invalidate the work of preceding activists. Woodson-Boulton said that the efforts of gay and trans rights activists in the past helped to undo ideals that linked gender identity and sexuality to biological sex, and this policy would disregard all of it.
Amy Woodson-Boulton, history professor, shared similar views on how the proposed legislation could invalidate the work of preceding activists. Woodson-Boulton said the efforts of gay and trans rights activists in the past helped to undo ideals that linked gender identity and sexuality to biological sex, and this legislation would disregard all of it.
“Those essentialist ideas were pernicious," Woodson Boulton said. "[they] helped to justify discrimination and inequality and [they] were based on outmoded and ideologically-driven science."
Jenica Garcia, sophomore animation major and president of Transcendence, LMU's club for transgender and gender non-conforming students, said that receiving news of the Trump administration's memo was “devastating.”
“The fact that they are confusing gender identity with sex is mind-boggling,” Garcia said. “They are not taking into consideration so many people in this country. If [the legislation] were to go through, then gender is going to be based on what’s biological, on what’s between your legs.”
Under the proposed policy, according to Insider Higher Ed, the legal definition of sex would be "a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth. The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.”
Lauren Moreno, director of LGBTSS, said that the proposed definition will have a negative impact on the transgender community at LMU as it would hinder resources that ensure legal protection and health care for students.
"Mental health and physical wellbeing are primary concerns [for which] transgender people seek legal advocacy, specifically protections that address bias and hate from Title IX," Moreno said.
In support of the transgender and gender non-binary community at LMU, an email was sent to students on behalf of LGBT Student Services and Interculturalism. In the email, the proposed legislation was described as “inherently triggering to our trans community.”
As for the general effect the news had on students, the email said that “thus far students are doing ok, but many are struggling with their validity and value of safety and protection which is greatly impacting their mental health.” The email sent provided students with materials for more information on the specifics of the proposed legislation.
Transcendence is also offering support to students. In addition to their weekly meetings available to transgender and non-binary students to provide a safe space to process the news, a demonstration is being held Thursday, Nov. 8 at 1 p.m. on the Alumni Mall.
Garcia said that the day after the news was released of the Trump administration's intentions, they went to Moreno to discuss a demonstration in response to provide context, draw awareness, educate and inform allies. Garcia will introduce and close the event, and three people who identify within the LGBTQ+ community are going to speak to rally support.
“This is something that happened,” Garcia said. “We need to acknowledge it.”
Moreno said that is a critical time to educate ourselves on how decisions like these made by the federal government will affect our peers.
"I think it’s important to keep in mind, learn [about] and support those who are different from us and build empathy for each other," Moreno said. They also said that the way to build that ally-ship begins with understanding how federal decisions impact everyone.
“Though its devastating news, we can fight against this,” Garcia said.