In a further sign of the Trump-Pence administration’s “attempt to erase transgender people,” the Guardian reported this week that U.S. officials are pursuing an effort to strip the word “gender” from United Nations documents on human rights.
The push from Washington-dispatched officials has been made at recent meetings of the U.N’s Third Committee of the General Assembly, a body tasked with “items relating to a range of social, humanitarian affairs, and human rights issues that affect people all over the world.”
“We see this for what it is—another attempt to define transgender people out of existence.” —National Center for Transgender EqualityOne example of the push is U.S. officials’ desire to replace “gender-based violence” with “violence against women” in a draft “Trafficking in women and girls” resolution put forth this month.
“To succeed in its campaign,” the Guardian noted, “the U.S. will have to forge unusual alliances, with Russia and conservative Islamic states, against its western European partners.”
According to Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, “While it’s infuriating [the administration] would behave in such an extreme and volatile manner at the United Nations, we are confident their prejudice will lose out to science, reason, and the ongoing fight for human rights.”
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The State Department, for its part, dismissed the allegation it is “attempting to exclude the protection of transgendered persons.” The National Center for Transgender Equality, however, argued Friday that the “State Department is trying to deny that what they’re doing harms the trans community. We see this for what it is—another attempt to define transgender people out of existence.”
Less than a week ago, New York Times reported on a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) memo, in circulation since the spring, revealing that “the Trump administration is considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth, the most drastic move yet in a government-wide effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law.”
Such an effort, said Diana Flynn, litigation director at civil rights organization Lambda Legal, would be “clearly another ideologically-driven attempt by the Trump administration to marginalize transgender people and force them into the shadows. They have neither law nor fact on their side, and we will not accept this shameless attempt on the part of our government to erase the very existence of transgender members of our community.”
The Guardian‘s new reporting also comes the same week as the Trump’s Justice Department argued before the U.S. Supreme Court that federal anti-sex discrimination laws should not be extended to trans workers.
James D. Esseks, who leads the ACLU’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, & HIV Project, called the Justice Department’s position in the case “part of a much larger attack on transgender people by the Trump administration,” and noted proposal in the recently revealed DHS memo, which he denounced as “a shameful, hate-filled move.”
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