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Trump administration considers narrowing legal definition of a person's sex

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Posted at 1:58 PM, Oct 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-21 15:10:42-04

WASHINGTON -- The Trump administration is considering defining a person's sex as something determined by their genitalia at birth, which could roll back federal civil rights protections extended to transgender people under the Obama administration.

“Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth,” according to a memo from the Department of Health and Human Services that the New York Times obtained. 

Under Obama, the definition was loosened from the sex a person was assigned at birth to the sex a person identified as, regardless of their genitalia.

The Trump administration definition would wipe out federal recognition of about 1.4 million people who have received sex reassignment surgery or who identify as something other than their assigned sex.

This definition may also be harmful to people who experience gender dysphoria, which is defined by the American Psychiatric Association as a "conflict between a person's physical or assigned gender and the gender with which he/she/they identify" by forcing them to continue to identify as a sex with which they are not.

“This takes a position that what the medical community understands about their patients — what people understand about themselves — is irrelevant because the government disagrees,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, who led the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights in the Obama administration, according to the New York Times.

While the definition of sex being based on biological traits is in accordance with the definition from the World Health Organization, the definition from the WHO does not require a person's sex be that which they were born with.

Trump administration officials said they hope to present the new legal definition to the Justice Department before the end of the year.