"The Department of Health and Human Services is arguing for a new, legal Title IX definition of sex that is 'determined by genitalia at birth,' " according to a memo obtained by The New York Times

By Sophie T. Stern
October 22, 2018 08:53 PM

Jazz Jennings is among numerous celebrities who are speaking out against the possibility that the legal term of “transgender” could be eliminated under President Donald Trump‘s administration.

On Sunday, The New York Times revealed in a memo obtained by the outlet that the Department of Health and Human Services is arguing for a new, legal Title IX definition of sex that is “determined by genitalia at birth.”

“The department argued in its memo that key government agencies needed to adopt an explicit and uniform definition of gender as determined ‘on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable,’ ” The Times reported.

“The agency’s proposed definition would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with, according to a draft reviewed by The Times. Any dispute about one’s sex would have to be clarified using genetic testing,” the outlet reported.

“Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth,” the memo states, according to NYT. “The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.”

Following the report, 18-year-old Jennings, who stars on TLC’s I Am Jazz, said in a video shared to social media that she is “not afraid.”

“Us transgender and gender non-conforming people have been declaring our existence for so long and have only continued to grow stronger in our voices,” she wrote on Twitter. “If we were ever going to be ‘eradicated,’ it would’ve happened long ago.”

Jennings, who underwent gender confirmation surgery in June, continued, “It’s not fair that we keep saying who we are, and we are not hurting anyone, and yet people try to take away our rights.”

Transgender actor and activist Chaz Bono also responded on Twitter, writing, “I can’t begin to express the rage I feel toward an administration that is trying to redefine me out of existence. Just another gift for his small minded base, terrified of the diversity that has always made America exceptional!”

If enacted, it could make it more difficult for trans individuals to receive legal protection — something Nicole Maines, who plays the first openly trans superhero on the CW’s Supergirl, is all too familiar with.

In high school, she was barred from the female restroom, and ultimately took her case to the Maine Supreme Court. To fight back, Maines, 21, inspired other trans individuals on Twitter to be their own superhero.

“I’m scared.. but more so I am pissed. If they think we are going to lie down and let them tell us who we are they are wrong. We are a community of warriors. We are strong and resilient and they are no match for our truth,” she tweeted.

Laverne Cox‘s message was one of positivity: “We must not give up the fight. But in the face of this affront on my existence and the existence of my community I choose love not fear. We exist and always have.”

Asia Kate Dillon, who plays Taylor on Showtime’s Billions, captioned a personal Instagram portrait, “I’m here, I’m queer. I’m trans, I’m non-binary. You can’t erase me.”

Indya Moore, who played Angel on FX’s Pose, called on allies not just to support trans people on screen, but also at the ballot box.

“Ya’ll wanna see us on tv and in entertainment and are pleased by our ability to entertain you but some of you don’t seem to care pass that. We aren’t clowns, or conspiracy theories. We exist always have always will. So Everyone who watches #PoseFX Needs to be at the PollsFX,” she tweeted.

Amiyah Scott, who plays Cotton on Fox’s Star, tweeted: “This attempted erasure of trans lives is disgusting. They are literally trying to eliminate the already threatened livelihood of trans people.”

Laura Jane Grace, lead singer of Against Me!, tweeted, “Have decided that instead of letting my identity be erased by the government I’m going to double down and become twice as transgender.”

Celebrity allies have also come forward to denounce the memo, including Amy Poehler, Abby Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, speaking in a video shared by the National Center for Transgender Equality.

“As cis people, we recognize our privilege in the safety of our bodies,” Glazer said in the video. “To our trans friends and specifically trans youth, we want to let you know that we are here to spend our privilege and to fight for your rights and create a new world where we are all equally safe.”

According to The Times, “health and human services is preparing to formally present the new definition to the Justice Department before the end of the year, Trump administration officials say.”

“If the Justice Department decides that the change is legal,” the outlet reported, “the new definition can be approved and enforced in Title IX statutes, and across government agencies.”