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Scott, Bonamici to Secretary Azar: Refusing to Recognize the Transgender Community Violates Science, Civil Rights

November 20, 2018
Press Release

 

WASHINGTON - Today, Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03), the top Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Vice Ranking Member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alexander Azar expressing their concern over a recent report outlining the Trump administration’s plan to redefine gender to exclude transgender identity.

The report, published by the New York Times in October 2018, details the administration’s plan to alter the definition of gender to “a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth.” This redefinition would remove civil rights protections and federal recognition for the 1.4 million Americans who identify as transgender.

“A redefinition by this administration of the term gender for the purposes of federal law would express a careless disregard for medicine and science,” the Members wrote. “Further, attempts to alter or undermine existing civil rights protections could increase attacks against transgender persons. We strongly urge the Department not to pursue these harmful actions, which would only further marginalize vulnerable populations in this country and represent a blatant attack on civil rights.”

In the letter, the Members also noted that federal courts have long ruled that sex discrimination laws – such as those included in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, and the Affordable Care Act – explicitly apply to discrimination against transgender individuals.

The full text of the letter is available below and here.

 

Dear Secretary Azar:

We write regarding a New York Times report outlining the Administration’s plans to redefine gender “… as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth.” This redefinition would specifically exclude transgender identity and remove civil rights protections for 1.4 million Americans.

A redefinition by this Administration of the term gender for the purposes of federal law would express a careless disregard for medicine and science.  American Psychiatric Association confirms that “gender is not necessarily determined by a person’s biological sex assigned at birth, which can be physiologically uncertain in some cases… 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 sexual development.” Further, attempts to alter or undermine existing civil rights protections could increase attacks against transgender persons.  One in four transgender individuals are assaulted for no other reason than their gender identity.

Numerous federal courts have ruled that federal sex discrimination laws – including those encompassed within Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Fair Housing Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act – apply to discrimination against transgender individuals. Federal courts have also rejected claims that transgender-inclusive policies violate the rights of others.

Given the scientific data and legal precedence for equal treatment of transgender persons, we strongly urge the Department not to pursue these harmful actions, which would only further marginalize vulnerable populations in this country and represent a blatant attack on civil rights. We also ask that you clarify any plans your Department has to redefine gender, and if applicable, we further request that you provide any data or resources used to inform this decision. 

Sincerely,

Ranking Member Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03), Committee on Education and the Workforce

Vice Ranking Member Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Committee on Education and the Workforce

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