As a nonbinary Latinx person, a little thing such as getting the gender marker "X" on my Texas driver's license looked like a possibility, as it seemed as though the U.S. were headed toward progress.
As I look at my license now, though, the "F" gender marker continues to become more foreign to me. Throughout my life, I've always felt that something was different about me, whether it was my sexuality or my gender identity — and, as it turns out, I was right about both. My gender identity is something I have to work with every day – in fact, my therapist told me recently that I have to learn to be OK with the fact that I might never figure out whether I'm a "boy" or a "girl."
Part of learning to be OK with that was the possibility of "X" as my gender marker on my license, but this fall things began to look dimmer. As I read the news one Sunday, I thought to myself, Here is a memo that would nullify you and so many other people,
On Sunday, October 21, the New York Times reported that the Department of Health and Human Services was preparing to redefine the term "sex" under Title IX for the purposes of several key government agencies, allegedly writing in an internal memo the Times obtained that these agencies "needed to adopt an explicit and uniform definition of gender" that "would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable and determined by the genitals that a person is born with." But such a redefinition flies in the face of science, medicine and the law. It seems an attempt not just to eliminate protections for transgender individuals, but to stop recognizing them altogether.
Reducing someone's gender identity to their genitals is violence. It tells me and my community that my existence doesn't matter because I don't identify with my sex assigned at birth — it's why to date this year, at least 22 transgender individuals have been killed, a majority of them trans women of color.
This administration has repeatedly attempted to erase transgender people and deny them protections, and their messages that target the transgender community have only fueled similar legislation at the state levels. This year, according to the National Center for Trans Equality, there have been 21 anti-trans bills introduced in 10 states, and anti-trans ballot initiatives could show up in two other states.
I saw it happen in my own city when the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) did not pass, a devastating blow to Houston and its LGBTQ+ community. Despite clear messages from the mainstream medical, psychological and scientific communities, this administration continues to try to effectively erase protections for transgender individuals — protections such as access to health care, housing and employment.
But we can't continue to do the work alone.
If you identify as an ally to the trans and nonbinary community at any capacity, now is the time to speak up and do the work to help us. Just in 2017, there was nearly one homicide a week of an LGBTQ person in the U.S.
Though the memo can't hide our existence and the precedents set by dozens of federal court decisions in the past two decades affirming the trans community, our safety might be compromised. This means that your contributions to the trans community can't stop at the voting booth or hashtagging #WontBeErased on your posts.
But, most importantly, it means never stopping asking how you can best support this community in this volatile climate — let "ally" become a verb for you.