Transgender activists hold a press conference protesting the Trump administration’s push to define gender as binary and based on biological sex – Photo: Human Rights Campaign.
More than 16,000 people are asking popular genetic testing companies to refuse to cooperate with the Trump administration’s plan to use genetic testing to settle disputes about transgender, nonbinary, or intersex people’s gender.
A petition, circulated by the global consumer group SumOfUs, calls on companies like Ancestry, 23andMe, Quest Labs, and LabCorp to reject the administration’s efforts to define gender as binary and based on biological sex.
Many transgender people have taken to the streets to protest the administration’s efforts, which were detailed in a report from The New York Times last weekend.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services circulated a memo advocating for a rollback of Obama-era policies that recognize transgender people’s gender identity and rights under federal statutes prohibiting discrimination.
Under the proposed change, transgender, non-binary, and intersex people would not have their gender identity recognized for purposes of accessing restrooms, locker rooms, changing facilities, college dormitories, or gender-specific programs.
They would also no longer be protected from sex-based discrimination in schooling under Title IX, or in employment, housing, or public accommodations under Title VII — despite several court rulings to the contrary.
As part of the administration’s efforts to classify gender-variant people as either “male” or “female,” the HHS memo recommends pursuing invasive genetic testing in cases where disputes over a person’s gender identity arise.
“[T]rump’s plan won’t work without cooperation from genetic testing facilities like Ancestry, Quest Labs, 23andMe, National Geographic, and LabCorp. That’s why we’re going directly to genetic testing facilities to demand they refuse to cooperate with Trump’s policy,” the SumOfUs petition reads.
“Trump is putting lives at risk and endorsing discrimination. … The legal protections Trump is undoing are critical for protecting the most basic of rights. They protect students from bullying in school and give them the right to use the correct bathroom and locker room,” the petition’s authors write, noting that the Trump administration’s definition of gender as fixed at birth flies in the face of scientific and medical understandings about gender dysphoria.
“With enough public pressure, we can get genetic testing companies to condemn Trump’s hate and ensure that this policy can never be enforced,” the petition continues. “Public backlash blocked the repeal of Obamacare, stopped the first Muslim ban, halted family separation, and reversed the ban on transgender people serving in the military. Now, we must speak out to defend the privacy and human rights of transgender, gender non-conforming, and intersex people.”
“The Trump administration’s attacks on transgender, intersex, and nonbinary people have always been about erasing them from public life,” Katie Reilly, the campaign manager for SumOfUs. “This latest attack to define gender, not as a self-determined identity, but as assigned by the federal government based off of genital presentation at birth, is sickening.
“The Trump administration’s proposed testing to genetically validate gender identity is state violence, and puts the safety of not only trans people at risk, but also those of intersex people and others who do not fit within the medically-disproven sex binary,” she said. “But Trump’s plan will not work without cooperation from genetic testing facilities like Ancestry, Quest Labs, 23andMe, National Geographic, and LabCorp.
“That is why thousands of SumOfUs members are demanding these testing facilities pledge to refuse to cooperate with Trump’s inhumane policy proposal,” added Reilly. “They must demonstrate that they draw the line at participating in anti-science and human rights attacks on transgender, gender non-conforming, and intersex people.”