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Proposed Redefinition Of Gender Is The Latest Threat To Trans Rights In America

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Transgender rights in the United States are reportedly under review by the federal government. How do individuals who idenitfy as trans handle issues of safety, visibility and identity? Members of the transgender community and representatives from Equality Texas, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the San Antonio Gender Association speak on "The Source." 

There are an estimated 1.4 million adults in the United States and more than 125,000 people in Texas who identify as "transgender," according to data from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. 

The umbrella term "transgender" refers to individuals who do not conform to the gender identity they were born with. 

Under the Trump administration, agencies in the federal government are considering a more narrow definition of gender. The proposal seeks to determine "sex" through the lens of a person's genitalia at birth, as simply a biological condition that is unchangeable.
Advocates are concerned that this reversal could exclude transgender people from taking part in crucial federal programs like healthcare, reduce recognition for the trans community and limit civil rights laws. 

Transgender right have also come under attack in other ways. In 2017, A Trump administration ban on transgender people enlisting in the military was deemed unconstitutional by seven separate federal courts.

A second ban attempt, also ruled unconstitutional, wouldn't have discharged currently serving transgender people but would bar any new transgender person from enlisting unless they agreed to serve in the sex they were assigned at birth.

One of the most controversial pieces of legislation proposed in Texas' 2017 session was the so-called "bathroom bill" that would limit transgender people’s access to bathrooms in public schools and government buildings. Despite being one of Governor Greg Abbott's priority items, the bill died in session following vehement pushback by civil rights groups and business leaders.

What legal standards are currently in practice for transgender people in Texas and nationwide? If this proposal becomes federal law, what would that mean for allies and members of the LGBTQ community?

So far in 2018, the Human Rights Campaign counted 22 known cases of fatal violence against a transgender person in the United States, including one incident in Dallas. 

How do transgender individuals handle issues regarding safety, visibility and identity? 


"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 210-614-8980, email thesource@tpr.org or tweet at @TPRSource. 

This interview aired on Tuesday, November 13, 2018.

Jan Ross Piedad Sakian is TPR’s News Operations Producer. In this role, she develops strategy on collaborative and digital initiatives for the station. Since 2016, Jan Ross has served in a coordinating capacity for TPR’s state and national partners, including The Texas Newsroom.
Kim Johnson is the producer for Texas Public Radio’s live, call-in show The Source. She is a Trinity University alum with bachelor’s degrees in Communication and Spanish, and a Master of Arts Degree from the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin.
David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi