Administration pushes for redefinition of gender

The Department of Health and Human Services is planning on establishing a legal definition of gender, detailed in an article released by The New York Times on Oct. 21.

The New York Times said the administration hopes to define gender based on the genitalia a person is born with and that people should only be allowed to identify as male or female.

“Educational institutions who receive federal funds would be forced to apply this limited definition of sex in determining Title IX issues,” said Emilie Mitchell, an American River College psychology professor and coordinator of the ARC Pride Center. “This would effectively discourage colleges from establishing and enforcing protective policies for transgender students.”

Title IX is a federal civil rights law that specifically prohibits gender discrimination in education programs that receive federal funding, according to the Oct. 21 article published by The New York Times.

Under this proposal, The New York Times reported that gender would be based “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.”

Sociology Professor Thien-Huong Ninh said the difference between sex and gender is that sex is defined as something we are “born with” and gender is something we “become.”

“Not only does the Trump policy fly in the face of current research but it undermines a basic principle in education,” Mitchell said. “As educational institutions, it is our duty to ensure the safety, well-being and access to education for all students.”


The memo further stated that disputes surrounding a person’s sex would have to be “clarified using genetic testing,” according to The New York Times article.

Ninh said it’s problematic to base a person’s gender on their biological sex.

“It excludes and almost not recognizes transgender people,” Ninh said.

Sociology Professor Rachael Browne said attempts to write groups of people out existence are “incomprehensible.”

“Attempts to remove protections against discrimination are outrageous,” Browne said.

The HHS has been privately arguing for the last year that the term “sex” shouldn’t be inclusive to gender identity or homosexuality, according to The New York Times article.

“What the Trump administration is doing can have consequences that are harmful,” Ninh said.

In a letter emailed to ARC students, the ARC Pride Center raised awareness for the issue.

“Not only would discrimination against trans people be made legal and given government sanction, but this change would further embolden anti-trans bigotry across the country,” The ARC Pride Center wrote in the email obtained by The Connection. “This would inevitably lead to an increase in transphobic violence.”

Ninh noted the lack of services for Cosumnes River College students in the LGBT community and praised ARC for having a student service like the ARC Pride Center.

“That’s very, very good,” Ninh said. “I wish we had that at CRC as well.”

Despite the administration’s efforts to redefine sex and gender, Browne said transgender students in California will be protected by state laws.