The Trump administration seems prepared to proclaim that transgender Americans are either lying or ignorant about who they truly are.
Anatomy at birth shall be their destiny, forever, and always under the proposed edict from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Uncle Sam knows best!
The proposed doctrine represents "a troubling overreach by government into personal lives," former New Jersey Gov. Christie Whitman said on Twitter.
The change envisioned in the internal HHS memo disclosed by the New York Times could be profoundly painful to the 1.4 million Americans who identify as transgender, who could find themselves excluded from federal protections from discrimination in education, housing and health care.
All that's missing from the memo is a declaration along the lines of "God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve" — the lame (if catchy) slogan familiar to generations of LGBTQ people.
We vividly remember how it felt to have pronouncements made and policies drafted about us, often by clueless bureaucrats acting without our advice or consent — let alone, our participation.
We can recall the bad old days when the nature of our natures was up for debate in the mainstream media (there were headlines like, "Homosexuality: Vice or illness?") and when various self-professed experts, typically with only faith-based credentials, suggested that our sin could and should only be forgiven via forcible conversion.
Which, presumably, would eliminate the "problem" of homosexuality.
Talk about big government.
"It's scary," said Allison Whitaker, a 34-year-old Maple Shade author and trans advocate who transitioned 2½ years ago. She tells the story in her recently published memoir, Sometimes It Hurts.
The administration's proposed policy threatens "our right to exist and be happy and whole in who we are," Whitaker told me. "It's about doing whatever they can to keep us separate, to keep victimizing and minimizing us. They're telling us we don't matter. It's as if they're trying to wipe us off the face of the Earth."
The proposed federal transgender control system would be imposed regardless of the facts of transgender lives — regardless of the truth in the minds, hearts, and bodies of Whitaker and others who know far more about the realities of being transgender than any traditionally gendered person. And who certainly know more than politicians with an obsessive, if not fetishistic, focus on which people should be permitted to urinate in which restroom.
Once issued, the HHS decree would be an official U.S. government seal of disapproval and disrespect, a punishment imposed by a purportedly secular state for the alleged sin of nonconformity to what are largely faith-based expectations. Ignorant of science, it's a move that nevertheless tries to disguise its prejudices by hiding behind an interpretation of science so narrowly incomplete it's about as scientifically plausible as the Biblical tale of Adam's rib.
Apparently, the view from the moral mountaintop that is the Trump administration requires that Obama-era regulations, about which the president really does seem obsessed, be dismissed along with the steadily emerging and persuasive jurisprudence that transgender people are people whose circumstances do not disqualify them from life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
The sense of urgency behind the memo would seem to suggest either a national emergency, or some other compelling imperative. The mid-term elections, perhaps?
No wonder trans people and their allies are taking to the streets nationally and in Philly. It's maddening to find oneself being used as a campaign prop to further agitate already rabid members of the president's base, or to satisfy the desires of Vice President Pence, the pious homophobe who dreams of succeeding him.
But because so many millions of LGBTQ people have come out in the last half-century — 2019 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots — no president, legislature, high court justice or government memo will have the power to erase us.
Because, as Whitaker said, "we're not going away."