People in past years probably envisioned 2018 as a time where people fly spaceships, could teleport or, at the very least, print food—all of which could be considered as quite progressive. But we at The Concordian are sad to remind our readers that our current society is seemingly becoming more regressive than progressive. Just last week, our editorial challenged the CAQ’s religious symbol ban––a ban that prohibits freedom of religion, a basic human right under the Canadian and the Quebec Charters of Rights and Freedoms.
This week, we were stunned to learn that the Trump administration is restricting and stripping away the rights of transgender and nonbinary people. According to a report by The New York Times, Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is considering major changes to Title IX, “the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance.” These major changes include defining gender as determined “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable,” according to the same article.
The Obama administration took concrete steps in extending the rights and protections granted to transgender and nonbinary people in terms of education and health care, by allowing them to serve in the military and recognizing that gender is an individual’s choice rather than something strictly assigned at birth. The HHS’s policy wants to completely destroy this. It aims to define gender as binary, something that is unchangeable and assigned by the genitals one is born with. We at The Concordian believe these policies are transphobic and aim to erase the existence of transgender and nonbinary people in the U.S. This could have a catastrophic impact not only on those living in the U.S., but also others around the world.
The HHS’s policy also stated that anyone with disputes about their gender must use genetic testing to clarify any misconceptions. Using science, a field that has always been progressive and innovative, as a way to reinforce a backwards policy is ironic in its entirety. The memo detailing the policy also states that a person’s sex as listed on their original birth certificate is the one they must identify with, “unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.”
Almost 1.4 million Americans identify as transgender––these new policies would undo the rights they have been granted through the Obama administration, and would be another step towards erasing trans and nonbinary voices. The Human Rights Campaign—which is the U.S.’s largest civil rights organization advocating for LGBTQ+ equality—has demanded that the Trump administration not go forward with the proposal, as it will harm transgender people and put them in serious danger. It is integral to recognize trans and nonbinary people as those who deserve basic civil rights, equality and protection.
As we’ve seen throughout history, when an entire group of people are not given equal rights or are stripped of what little rights they do have, unrest ensues. We at The Concordian hope that everyone is as outraged at the Trump administration’s attempt to suppress transgender and nonbinary people as we are. We must remain vigilant in calling out the administration’s blatant disrespect for human rights.
In the past, the U.S. might’ve been seen as a progressive nation that boasted innovative leaders and creative thinkers. But the country’s recent actions prove this is not true; in fact, they go vehemently against the concept of progressiveness by creating policies that aim to disregard and oppress an entire group of people. While we may marvel at how far technology has come over the years and how innovative the Western world may seem, we cannot celebrate progression until our social policies also mirror this way of thinking.
Archive graphic by Alexa Hawksworth