Alleged plan to phase out “transgender” upsets teens


Michaela Edlin

Senior Skylar Henry, who now attends Boynton, spoke about his experiences as a trans man at the 2017 Winter Wishes rally on Dec. 9.

Michaela Edlin and Annalise Freimarck

Reactions to President Donald Trump’s alleged proposal to remove the word transgender from federal use were met with responses ranging from amused disbelief to incredulity at Branham.

The administration, according to the New York Times, is considering defining out the word “transgender.” Besides the possible emotional and social harm this may inflict on members of the trans community, officials are unsure of its logistical effects.

In response, students such as senior Genevieve Liu are trying to spread a campaign to protest the reported plan Nov. 6. Liu considers themself gender-fluid and wants to raise awareness for themself and their friends.

The federal government’s policies on social issues usually don’t have a direct impact on states such as California because of its liberal-leaning positions and financial stability. For Branham, that means the supposed change toward redefining transgender people may influence perceptions of trans students on campus.

California is the lone state that, starting in 2019, will lower the threshold needed to for to register register their legal gender or gender identity. They can register without a doctor’s certification or appearing before a court.

Senior Ten Sanchez, a transgender man, said that the purported policy is “ridiculous.”

“It just makes me laugh because it makes me uncomfortable,” Sanchez said. “I think it could make a lot of people very uneasy in their own country, especially if they were born and raised here, they could feel unsafe in their own community.”

Another senior trans student, who wished to remain anonymous, said that Trump’s alleged plan would erase the efforts in normalizing being transgender. They, too, originally thought it was a joke.

“I think comfort levels in the trans community will decrease,” they said. “A lot of people are not going to be as open about it. It’ll probably just push back progress started years ago.”

The policy could limit the scope of Title IX, which prohibits education-based discrimination due to one’s sex. From this alleged proposal, one’s sex would purely be defined before or at birth, rather than on how one would define themselves. Other areas that would be affected include federal recognition of trans people’s genders, medical discrimination and transgender-based hate crime lawsuits.

On a broader scale, the 1.4 million people who are federally recognized as transgender would not be accounted for. This would complicate the efforts of those people who have yet to, or are in the process of officially petitioning to change their sex marker.

This alleged policy is a result of the Department of Health and Human Services’s efforts to change federal definitions and vocabulary of scientific language, including words related to gender and sex. The administration has previously tried to bar transgender military members from service and legally restrict the scope of transgender protections in national health care law.

The district extends nondiscriminatory protections to transgender students on campus, such as access to sex-segregated facilities like bathrooms and locker rooms and protections against gender discrimination in hate-driven acts. It also encourages those in the district to use names and pronouns as requested. The district explicitly defines transgender as “a student whose gender identity is different from the gender he/she was assigned at birth” which contradicts the alleged policy of the Trump administration.

Special education teacher Leanne Haghighi, who advises the Gender-Sexuality Alliance club, has concerns about the potential emotional and social impacts of this policy.

“To delete someone’s existence and who they are, I think I’m at a loss of words of the impact of how that might feel,” Haghighi said.

At the same time, she believes Branham students would not be significantly impacted even if the policy were enacted.

“Our school can take care of the needs of our students here,” Haghighi said, “regardless of what is happening.”