The Debate Over Transgender Policies

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The Debate Over Transgender Policies

Art Credits to Emma Bertram!

Art Credits to Emma Bertram!

Art Credits to Emma Bertram!

Art Credits to Emma Bertram!

Carys Law ‘21

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Throughout the course of American history, gender identity has been a controversial topic.  While the majority of people remain within the confines of their birth sex, some choose to identify as transgender, meaning that they choose to be genderless or be the opposite of their gender identified at birth.  

Just recently, in 2016, Jamie Shupe became the first legally transgender person in the United States [1].  Ever since, many others have come forward as transgender, spurring support for the right to one’s your own gender identity.  Unfortunately, the reactions to the movement aren’t all sunshine and roses.

A few prominent events clearly show the divide in the U.S. over transgender issues, the foremost and most recent being the bathroom controversy and the military ban.

The bathroom controversy has only grown in infamy, asbeing that it brings up debate over their civil and natural rights as human beings.  The issue is this: should transgender people be able to use the bathroom of which they identify their gender with? Conservative lawmakers recently proposed to force transgender people to use the bathroom of their birth sex.  This brought up an onslaught of civil and natural right arguments from some citing the right to expression, while others say that it is in the interest of the privacy of other non-transgendered people using the bathroom [2]. Additionally, the military ban recently signed by President Trump has become a point of discussion.  The ban prevents openly transgender people from serving in the military, even though statistics show that it would have a negative impact on the military. Evidently, it is controversial in the fact that it challenges the right for transgenders to serve our country [3]. Just recently, the most shocking bill against transgender rights was revealed in a leaked White House memo.

It is no secret that many prominent figures in the White House today align with more conservative views, andwhich do not agree with the principles of the transgender movement.  Shockingly, on October 21st, it was revealed that the White House had drafted a memo considering legally constricting the rights to gender identity. The memo states: “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 means that the sex on one’s birth certificate would be an immutable condition [4].

Upon finding out, many people were outraged.  Transgender supporters cited the memo as an infringement on the natural rights of humans and a violation of the First Amendment: the right to expression [5].  Marie Kobin, sophomore, vocalized that “it is extremely disappointing that people have to fight for their rights as a transgender person.  Everybody should be allowed to express themselves in without having to worry about judgement.”

Many are frightened at the possibility that this law might be passed. As of today, the Republicans control all three branches of government: the executive, the judiciary, and the legislative.  For a law to be passed it must be approved by both the Senate and the House of Representatives, as well as the President, which has a decent probability of success. Even if it were taken to the Supreme Court as a civil rights case, it has a chance of still being allowed to pass because of the court’s conservative majority [6].  Allen Marakov, sophomore, expressed that “the feasibility of the law passing was definitely possible as the Republicans control congress, but the success ultimately is dependent on the result of the midterm elections.”

The Democratic Party regained control of the House of Representatives after the midterms, but Republicans still have a majority in the Senate.  This could be the turning point in a change in favor for the transgender community.

A prominent figure against the rights of the transgender people is Robert G. Marshall, a Republican delegate who had been in the Virginia House of Delegates for 26 years.  He has been an outspoken anti-LGBT lawmaker, proposing infamous bills such as a ban against gay marriage, and equally as controversial, a bathroom ban in schools. Recently, in a powerful turn of events, Marshall was ousted from office by transgender Democrat, Danica Roem.  She makes history as the first openly transgender person elected and seated in a U.S. legislature [7].

This could mark a shift in the tide of American views and politics, especially with the upcoming midterm elections.  The fragile balance of power between Democrats and Republicans could mean the difference on the debate over gender rules, but only time will tell the fate of our nation.


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