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Fighting Trump’s Title IX Policy – With Our Wallets

The transgender community is on high alert after a leaked memo from the Trump administration, which suggested that they will implement a legal definition of gender as “a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth,” according to New York Times. This is the most drastic move so far to erase recognition and protections for transgender people under federal civil rights law.

Under Obama’s presidency, a series of decisions loosened the legal concept of gender in federal programs, including education and healthcare. These decisions recognized gender as an individual’s choice, rather than their genitalia.

Now, the Department of Health and Human Services is intent on the decision to establish a legal definition of the term gender under Title IX, the civil rights law that bans gender discrimination. The department argued in its memo that key government agencies needed to adopt an explicit and uniform definition of gender as determined “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable” (New York Times). This new memo would essentially erase the 1.4 million Americans who choose to recognize themselves – surgically or not – as a gender other than the one they were born to, and the community is furious. According to Market Watch, they are looking to counteract this decision with their wallets.

Since the memo was released, nonprofit organizations that support the transgender community say that donations have increased drastically and the community intends on keeping their rights. Eli Elrick, director of the Trans Student Educational Resources, has said that, since the decision, the organization has witnessed an “unprecedented” number of donations, including many people buying buttons and stickers to publicly showcase their identity and support. “It’s crucial to make sure we are supporting organizations that support us back,” she wrote in an email. “Historically, many LGBT nonprofits have only focused on the most powerful in our community (wealthy white cisgender gays and lesbians). This is why it’s critical to instead support organizations led by and for the trans community.”    

Courtesy: Spencer Platt

Another organization known as Trans Lifeline has also seen a new rise in financial support from the trans community and their allies, and a soaring demand for its services. In the last month, the organization’s crisis hotline has received more than 7,000 calls, and, in just twenty-four hours after the news was released on New York Times, the daily donations doubled. These funds will be used to pay transgender people who staff the hotline by answering calls from people in crisis, as well as giving money to “micro-grants” to help trans people with financial needs.

“This cost is pocket change for some people but for a community with poverty like ours, it is a life-changing amount of money,” said Trans Lifeline director, Elena Rose Vera. According to a 2011 study, one in four transgender people say that they have lost a job due to discrimination, and 97% of transgender people have been mistreated at work in some way. Trans people are four times more likely to report living in extreme poverty than the general population, extreme poverty defined as making less than $10,000 per year. By removing the few protections this community has, this law could worsen these conditions.

 “Financially, this would have an enormous impact because all protections we have for employment and housing and health care access are dependent on measures that protect us legally as a class,” Vera said. “They consider us a problem.” 

I am a Creative Writing major studying at Florida State University. I have loved writing all kinds of genres since I was ten years old, and that passion has only grown over the last eleven years. Aside from writing, my passions also include drawing, painting, and cuddling my cat, Mason.
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