A memo was leaked earlier this week revealing the intention of the current administration to erase the existence of transgender and non-binary Americans by legally defining gender as a “biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth.”  

AFTA unequivocally endorses the rights of all transgender, non-binary, intersex and gender non-conforming people and their families. We summarily reject the assaultive notion that gender is determined by genitalia and lived exclusively within a binary. We stand with the intersex community in refuting the lie that genetic sex consists only of two categories: male and female.

Our collective experience as family scholars, clinicians, and as teachers and researchers of family clinicians have taught us that these truths are self-evident:

  • Family is the bedrock of society where people of all ages are physically, emotionally, and spiritually nurtured; this is especially true for children;
  • Raising children, even under the most fortunate circumstances, can be one of the most rewarding and also one of the most challenging responsibilities in society;
  • When a child or family member is marginalized or suffers for any reason, it is the responsibility of the family to protect and offer strength to their loved ones;
  • The systematic devaluation and marginalization of our citizens on the basis of identity results in the profound suffering of families and the intergenerational transmission of trauma.

It is the hope and expectation in our democracy that our government will support all its citizens and help families to protect all our children so they may become happy, well-adjusted, productive members of society.  This legislative strategy to erase the identities of millions of Americans is an act of political violence against Transgender, Intersex and Non-binary people and their families.

It is our responsibility as citizens and as mental health professionals to speak out and advocate for trans rights and gender justice. AFTA asks you to join with the organizations listed below to challenge our leaders. Act. Raise your voice. Contact your legislators. #WontBeErased

Other ways to act:

Encourage rallies around the country and world—people can visit transequality.org/WontBeErased-rallies for information and support.

Encourage influencers to share short videos showing support for trans youth who are scared at this time (contact Kayla Powell, kpowell@transequality.org, for more information on this).

Send letters of concern to ED, HHS, DOJ, and DOL.

Schedule OIRA meetings on the pending Title IX and ACA Section 1557 rules.

Be ready to submit strong comments when the ED and HHS proposed rules are published.

AFTA supports the following and other organizations in their calls for gender justice:

  • American Psychological Association:  Reliance on the term ‘biological sex’ ignores the complexity of the spectrum of sex, including natural variation in gender identity and the existence of people with differences in sex development.  Redefining a well-established term within federal policy with such harmful consequences is without justification. We call on the administration to abandon this wrongheaded approach.”
  • The Gender Dysphoria Affirmative Working Group: The notion that anyone should be denied civil rights on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation is abhorrent- running counter to basic human dignity and that the above position to be legally untenable, scientifically inaccurate, and morally reprehensible.  Should the position outlined in the administration’s memo be enacted, data clearly indicate it will lead to harm and the death.
  • The Gender Spectrum: We are More Than Our DNA. This redefining of gender would not be a trivial act. It would harm many people already suffering from cultural bias, stigma and discrimination- particularly youth and people of color. It would also be detrimental to the self-esteem and well-being of many others.  The impact of the administration’s proposed definition, however, goes beyond the effect it would have on gender-diverse people, imposing government intrusion into individual liberties
  • The World Professional Association for Transgender Health: To acknowledge the diversity of sex and/or gender present in all human beings gives life and potential to those millions of people whose characteristics are not simply defined by sex chromosomes.  Litigation throughout all levels of the US judicial system has proven time and again that human beings who are not reducible to chromosomes do deserve full equality, including access to employment, housing, public accommodations, education, and health care, along with all rights conferred by the US Constitution.  As medical providers, we recognize that limiting equal protection with resulting discrimination in employment, housing, education, and/or public accommodation can have profound negative health impact. Further, the targeting of individuals or groups to deny medically indicated care represents a violation of the professional oaths taken by us in the medical provider community.
  • The Human Rights Campaign:  Setting a destructive precedent, the Trump-Pence administration intends to erase LGBTQ people from federal civil rights protections and eviscerate enforcement of non-discrimination laws.  Defining ‘sex’ in this narrow language tailored to the talking points of anti-equality extremists is part of a deliberate strategy to eliminate federal protections for LGBTQ people. This is a direct attack on the fundamental equality of LGBTQ people and, if this administration refuses to reverse course, Congress must immediately take action by advancing the Equality Act to ensure that LGBTQ people are explicitly protected by our nation’s civil rights laws.”
  • The Transgender Law Center:  The administration intends to ignore the preponderance of law, science and evidence on gender identity to empower hate and rollback access to healthcare and to make schools less safe for transgender and gender nonconforming youth. Transgender Law Center will fight this as we’ve fought all of the attacks by this administration, and the many attacks that came before the current administration.
  • Ackerman Institute: The Gender & Family Project of the Ackerman Institute condemns the suggestion that gender should be narrowly defined as genetic sex only. Gender has always been and will always be self-determined is not restricted by a binary. GFP also stands with our intersex community, we know that biological sex is not limited to two options of male or female.  The government cannot erase the transgender community and will not dehumanize transgender children and adults under the watch of their fiercely loving and protective families.

AFTA pledges to use its knowledge and resources to counter and resist the Trump administration’s attempts to dehumanize transgender/intersex/non-binary people and render them invisible.  We will continue to make public statements, encourage our members to exert influence of legislators and join with other groups in resistance.

Sarah Berland, LCSW, Family Policy/Human Rights Chair

Hinda Winawer, MSW, LCSW

Amy Tuttle-Guerrero, PhD, LMFT

Larry Levner, LCSW

Shawn Giammattei, PhD