Avlon on Trump's views of transgender people

CNN's John Avlon takes a look at President Trump's shifting stance on transgender rights, following a New York Times report on the Trump administration's draft proposal to roll back protections for transgender people.

Posted: Oct 23, 2018 6:17 AM
Updated: Oct 23, 2018 6:35 AM

The Trump administration is considering a new proposal to narrowly define "sex," a shift that could upend the rules and programs for transgender people in America.

The proposal, first reported by The New York Times, is just one of many ways that the administration has sought to roll back Obama-era protections for transgender people, including in schools, at work and in the military.

Here's a look at some of the main policy proposals the administration has taken toward transgender people and how they differ from the Obama administration.

Proposal to narrowly define sex

The Department of Health & Human Services is considering defining "sex" under Title IX as solely male or female as a biological and unchangeable condition determined by genitalia at birth, according to The New York Times.

"Sex means a person's status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth," the department proposed in the memo, which has been drafted and circulating since last spring, according to The Times. "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."

The proposed definition, if adopted, would erase federal recognition for Americans who identify as a gender different than the one they were born with, the newspaper reports. The change would also mark a shift from the Obama administration, which expanded the legal definition of gender in several instances.

The issue is particularly relevant to rules at the Department of Education on sex discrimination in schools and colleges, as well as at Health & Human Services for health programs receiving federal funding. Title IX prohibits sex-based discrimination in education programs or activities receiving federal funds.

HHS spokesperson Caitlin Oakley said that the department is following a court order blocking the Obama-era a rule on gender identity.

"The court order remains in full force and effect today and HHS is bound by it as we continue to review the issue," Oakley said. "Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and HHS's Office for Civil Rights will continue to vigorously enforce all laws as written and passed by Congress, prohibiting discrimination in healthcare on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, and disability."

The Human Rights Campaign, a prominent LGBTQ rights group, said the proposal was part of a "consistent, multi-pronged campaign by the Trump-Pence White House over the past two years to undermine the rights and welfare of LGBTQ people."

"Defining 'sex' in this narrow language tailored to the talking points of anti-equality extremists is part of a deliberate strategy to eliminate federal protections for LGBTQ people," HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement Sunday.

Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the conservative NC Values Coalition, told The Times that the Trump administration's position was "critical in this confused world to define these terms as Congress intended them when federal programs such as Title IX were passed."

Trump signs directive banning transgender military recruits

Transgender people had been banned from serving openly in the military, until a directive in 2016 under Obama's defense secretary, Ash Carter. Carter allowed for a yearlong training and implementation process to give the Pentagon time to determine how it would accept new transgender recruits into the military.

But in a series of tweets last July, President Donald Trump announced that "After consultation with my Generals and military experts," the US "will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military," citing the "tremendous medical costs and disruption" they would entail.

The policy, announced on the President's personal Twitter, came as a surprise to military officials. An earlier analysis from the Rand Corporation, commissioned by the Obama Defense Department, concluded that allowing transgender people to serve in military would have a "minimal impact" on readiness and health care costs, largely because there are so few.

Despite Trump's announcement, a federal judge ruled that the military had to accept transgender people. One transgender person joined, the Pentagon said in February.

The White House announced another policy in March that would ban most transgender people from serving in the military, except under certain limited circumstances. The ban has since been blocked by a federal court.

LGBT advocacy groups have said the policy is a discriminatory attack on those who have volunteered for their country.

"The Trump-Pence administration's continued insistence on targeting our military families for discrimination is appalling, reckless, and unpatriotic," said Ashley Broadway-Mack, president of the American Military Partner Association and spouse of an active duty Army officer.

Sessions says civil rights law doesn't protect transgender workers

Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed an Obama administration guidance and determined that the 1964 federal civil rights law does not protect transgender workers from employment discrimination.

Sessions announced the change in a memo to federal prosecutors in October 2017.

"Title VII's prohibition on sex discrimination encompasses discrimination between men and women but does not encompass discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender status," he wrote.

Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. Department of Justice spokesperson Devin O'Malley said that the Obama administration had expanded beyond what the law provided.

LGBT rights advocates criticized Sessions' decision.

"According to Sessions, an employer is free to hang a 'Transgender Need Not Apply' sign in their window. Fortunately, he is dead wrong on the law," said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, in a statement last year.

Public schools no longer obligated to allow transgender students in bathroom

Just a month into his presidency, the Trump administration withdrew Obama-era protections of transgender students in public schools that let people use the bathrooms and facilities that correspond with their gender identity.

The decision was a reversal from Obama's departments of Education and Justice, which issued the original guidance in May 2016 in a "Dear Colleague" letter to school districts and colleges that receive federal funds. The Obama era guidance was based on the administration's interpretation of Title IX, which bans discrimination based on sex.

Opponents of Obama's move had challenged it in federal court and won a national injunction preventing that guidance. In February 2017, the Trump administration's Justice Department withdrew from a court hearing that argued against the injunction.

The Trump administration letter to schools reasoned that the Obama-era guidance did not provide "extensive legal analysis" to support its position.

"As President Trump has clearly stated, he believes policy regarding transgender bathrooms should be decided at the state level," the White House said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Education confirmed this February that the department is not investigating civil rights complaints from transgender students who were banned from using bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 313166

Reported Deaths: 7228
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21496257
Hinds20294414
Harrison17814309
Rankin13573278
Jackson13411246
Madison10066217
Lee9962173
Jones8364163
Forrest7649152
Lauderdale7181240
Lowndes6370145
Lamar621686
Lafayette6171118
Washington5323133
Bolivar4797132
Oktibbeha461498
Panola4561105
Pearl River4499145
Marshall4397103
Warren4380121
Pontotoc419572
Monroe4100133
Union409076
Neshoba4026176
Lincoln3950110
Hancock377786
Leflore3487125
Sunflower335790
Tate332484
Pike3301105
Scott315373
Alcorn311968
Yazoo310769
Itawamba299477
Copiah296465
Simpson294788
Coahoma294379
Tippah287768
Prentiss279560
Adams269582
Marion268880
Leake266273
Wayne262341
Grenada260386
Covington256381
George246848
Newton246061
Winston226881
Tishomingo225967
Jasper220848
Attala214173
Chickasaw207157
Holmes188673
Clay184754
Stone182033
Tallahatchie178140
Clarke177879
Calhoun170132
Yalobusha163337
Smith162234
Walthall133845
Greene130333
Lawrence128323
Montgomery126742
Noxubee126734
Perry125938
Amite122842
Carroll121728
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis106932
Tunica104826
Claiborne102230
Benton99125
Humphreys96133
Kemper95428
Franklin83623
Quitman80216
Choctaw76118
Wilkinson66930
Jefferson65428
Sharkey50317
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 530325

Reported Deaths: 10966
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson763971520
Mobile40908804
Madison34717503
Tuscaloosa25730452
Montgomery24314588
Shelby23401249
Baldwin21107307
Lee15856171
Calhoun14488314
Morgan14282279
Etowah13819353
Marshall12210223
Houston10557280
Elmore10044205
Limestone9954150
Cullman9649193
St. Clair9644242
Lauderdale9419241
DeKalb8825185
Talladega8214175
Walker7223277
Autauga6918108
Jackson6804112
Blount6651137
Colbert6292134
Coffee5506119
Dale4828111
Russell440638
Chilton4279112
Franklin425582
Covington4118118
Tallapoosa4019152
Escambia393276
Chambers3559123
Dallas3547151
Clarke350861
Marion3113100
Pike310577
Lawrence299898
Winston274072
Bibb260464
Marengo249264
Geneva249077
Pickens234160
Barbour230757
Hale222677
Butler215969
Fayette212062
Henry188744
Cherokee184445
Randolph179941
Monroe177340
Washington167039
Macon158750
Clay156156
Crenshaw152057
Cleburne148741
Lamar141934
Lowndes138653
Wilcox127030
Bullock123041
Conecuh110129
Perry107526
Coosa107128
Sumter104332
Greene92334
Choctaw60424
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 68°
Columbus
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 64°
Oxford
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 68°
Starkville
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 61°
Rain and thunderstorms chances increase as we go into the afternoon and evening. The rain could be heavy at times and the storms could be hefty as times, so make sure to stay weather aware throughout your day.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather