A new memo on gender from the Trump administration says the Department of Health and Human Services is seeking to legally define sex as biological under Title IX, which prevents gender-based discrimination. It states the government needs to define gender “on a biological basis that is clean, grounded in science, objective and administrable.” Gender would be defined as male or female, based on genitalia recorded at birth, and any individual’s dispute about their gender would require genetic testing.
The Spahr Center stands in solidarity with the trans community, adamantly opposing this move to strip them of their rights. As advocates for all members of our LGBTQ community, we want to share the following action items from Chase Strangio, staff attorney with the ACLU’s LGBT & AIDS Project. He compiled this list of seven action items for all who support trans and nonbinary people. From voting to raising awareness among ‘cis’ friends, to supporting trans journalists, this is an essential checklist for trans rights.
- Bring attention to YES ON 3 in Massachusetts. There is a ballot initiative coming to a vote on November 6th in Massachusetts that would repeal protections for transgender and nonbinary people in public accommodations. This is the first statewide vote to strip trans people of their rights ever—and it would take away protections won in the legislature after decades of fighting to explicitly extend these protections to trans people .
Action item: Call Mass friends and tell them to “Vote YES ON 3! Raise the public profile of this ballot initiative by signal boosting on social media and make sure you include the words “VOTE YES ON 3 to SUPPORT EQUALITY.” Hyperlink, visit, and donate to FreedomMassachusetts.org. Use the hashtag, #YesOn3
- Get out the vote. We know there are a lot of feelings about voting in general, but let’s put it this way: Voting at the state and local level is especially helpful to trans liberation because: The midterm elections (this year) aren’t just about Congress, its also about state legislatures, state courts, city council races, and local school board elections. Yesterday’s Trump memo didn’t come out of nowhere, it is the work of our opponents at every level of government—they worked locally, and we have to also.
Action item: Visit vote.org for more information on getting out the vote in your area. Organize your friends and family to vote with you. Provide a ride or money for rides to the polls. Call friends and family in key swing states to encourage them to vote.
Action item: Spread the word about trans candidates: Amelia Marquez (MO), Brianna Titone (CO), Danielle Skidmore (TX), Christine Halquist (VT), Lasia Casil (Guam), etc
- Contribute to trans-led organizations. Many of our most prominent national orgs are not led by trans or nonbinary people, and therefore do not always prioritize these fights in the ways or with the resources they deserve. You can find trans-led organizations at both the national and local level (this is just a sample list).
Action item: Donate (time or money), follow and signal boost organizations like: Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Audre Lorde Project, Casa Ruby, El/La, Transgender Law Center, Gender Spectrum, Casa Ruby, FIERCE, Trans Latin@ Coalition, Trans Lifeline, Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, Southerners on New Ground, Organizacion Latina de Trans en Texas—for a more comprehensive list vist: Trans Justice Funding Project and Borealis Philanthropy Fund for Trans Generations.
- Contribute to bailout funds: So much of this kind of systematic discrimination means that trans people, especially those of color, are policed and incarcerated. We must join mass bailouts to get out community back on the streets to fight with us—and so we can fight for them.
Action item: Donate to bailout funds like: Bronx Freedom Fund, The Lorena Borjas Community Fund, Massachusetts Bail Fund, Chicago Bail Fund, Tranzmission Prison Project, TGIJP
Action item: Donate funds to support trans immigrants.
- If you’re ‘cis’, call your friends and have conversations! Ask your friends to share articles or videos written or produced by trans people, so we can boost their messages. Educate yourself to make sure you’re challenging the notion that there is a binary and a coherent notion of “biological sex”. Make sure your family understands that trans liberation is an integral part of the LGBTQ+ community, and supporting gay marriage was just one facet of LGBTQ+ equality.
Action item: call or text 3 cis people in your life about a measure they can take to support trans people.
- Pay attention to the notice and comment periods on proposed federal regulations. Many proposed changes to federal regulations, like the one written about in yesterday’s New York Times, have to go thru something called “notice and comment”. So, through mail, people are able to say what they think about a federal rule. This is a huge opportunity for citizen engagement, because even if it doesn’t impact the administration’s decision, it will be easier for pro-LGBTQ+ organizations to argue in court that the measure is discriminatory.
Action item: Follow legal organizations like LAMBDA Legal, the ACLU, and Transgender Law Center for updates on when you’re able to weigh in. they will give you templatized talking points and instructions for your convenience. For this measure we expect the comment period to be over these next two months.
- Support trans and nonbinary journalists, and make sure our major newspapers and media outlets are doing the same. Yesterday’s New York Times article was written by ‘cis’ people and quotes almost entirely ‘cis’ people. It also says the Obama administration “loosened” the concept of gender, which is false: the Obama administration merely promulgated regulations and guidance regarding the meaning of sex under federal law that was consistent with what the courts have been saying for years. Prohibitions on sex discrimination cover trans and GNC people. By stating that the Obama administration “loosened” the definition of gender, the Times actually plays into the hands of the GOP and anti-trans activists who seek to weaponized the misleading notion of biology, to contrast it with what they position as a fraudulent concept of gender identity. The reality is that sex includes many things, and prohibitions on sex discrimination includes trans people. Adopting the framing of “biological sex” versus “gender identity” plays right into the hands of anti-trans activists, and a trans reporter would have caught that.
Action item: Follow trans journalists and sign up for their newsletters/ signal boost their work. When you see articles about trans people appearing in the mainstream media, hold them accountable as to why a trans person did not write or appear in the piece.
The Spahr Center is Marin’s voice for the rights and equitable treatment and inclusion of our LGBTQ community. Visit our website www.thespahrcenter.org to learn about our LGBTQ and HIV programs and services. Get in touch with us if you need assistance, support, information and referral, or want to do more to be an advocate.
If you are between the ages of 12-25, check out our many community support groups through our Q’d In! program. Please keep an eye open for a community based event coming soon, and be sure to take extra care. #WeWontBeErased #TransIsBeautiful #TransRightsAreHumanRights