The Erasure of Identity


By Madison Barr

In this moment, as we know it, current administration is taking measures to erase an identity.

A recent memo from the Department of Health and Human Services, of which has been obtained by the New York Times, calls for an effort in narrowing the definition of gender to male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals a person is born with.

The full memo reads that “sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth… 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.”

This movement towards restrictions on the Obama-era gender laxness is headed by Roger Severino, the head of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights.

How ironic it is that the man who goes to bat for civil rights is one of the perpetrators against the concept.

He’s even called the Obama administration’s expansion on the definitions of sex and gender “radical gender ideology” after civil rights protections were expanded to better include the transgender population. This was accomplished by loosening the legal concept of gender in federal programs, such as education and healthcare, and recognizing one’s gender identity as something that isn’t determined by the sex assigned at birth.

This movement will effectively strip an estimated 1.4 million people of a legal recognition of their identity, making this the most drastic move in a government-wide effort in support of the erasure and removal of protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law.

Although this is still happening, it’s just as unsurprising as Brett Kavanaugh getting voted onto the Supreme Court despite Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony.

The Trump Administration has previously attempted to ban transgender people from serving in the military and remove questions regarding gender identity from the 2020 census, both of which have contributed to the loss of rights this population is experiencing ranging from housing to healthcare and even to education.

For the past year, the Department of Health and Human Services has also privately argued for the past year that the term “sex” wasn’t meant for the inclusion of gender identity. And who else would this be blamed on except for Barack Obama himself?


Severino is accusing the “lack of clarity” in regard to the definition of gender to have “wrongfully” extended civil rights protections to people who shouldn’t have them.

With this proposed change, the need to rewrite Title IX has risen in response due to its purpose of banning gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance.

And that process won’t be easy as the Department of Education, Justice, Health and Human Services, and Labor all enforce different sections of the act.

Of course, with such outrageous and controversial proposals, backlash is expected and there hasn’t been a shortcoming from both LGBTQ+ allies and those who are transgender themselves.

The National Center for Transgender Equality has responded by calling the proposal “an attempt to put restraints on the lives of 2 million people, effectively abandoning [their] right to equal access to healthcare, to housing, to education, or to fair treatment under the law.”

“Trans people are being attacked out of existence,” author Laura Kate Dale said on Twitter. “This is an incredibly┬ástrong move to legislate trans people out of existence, to criminalize totally healthy, happy,┬áharmless lives overnight. This is trans people being thrown into the fire with no real options. We need allies to be loud in opposition. This needs to be stopped.”