Trans People Exist, Elections Matter, and Identity Politics Are Here to Stay

[Content note: Transphobia. Relatedly, by Liss: Trump Regime May Legislatively Obliterate the Definition of "Transgender".]

Per the New York Times:
"The [D]epartment [of Health and Human Services] 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 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.'"
What this move tangibly means is that the Trump Administration is seeking to establish a federal, legal definition of gender that excludes trans and non-binary individuals, effectively eliminating HHS's, and possibly additional federal agencies', recognition and legal protection of trans and non-binary individuals.

I have three main takeaways:

(1) Transgender and non-binary people exist. For as much as the "non-politically-correct and proud of it" crowd likes to stake a monopoly on "facts," this Trump definition of "gender" is counter to reality.

(2) If I could relay anything to posterity about the importance of presidential elections, I would want to stress the following. Put aside the big, sweeping promises and slogans. "Revolution" in the U.S. isn't going to happen by simply electing a charismatic person in a presidential election, after which, the revolution will *jazz hands* have arrived.

Even with the disastrous Trump, his erosion of norms, liberties, and morals has occurred over a period of two years now. None of what we're seeing has happened overnight, even his "election" itself, which had a historical trajectory and context long in the making.

For those of us paying attention, the changes the Republicans have made since Trump was inaugurated are drastic and alarming. But, what have we become accustomed to as "just the way things are now"? What are we missing because it's being done behind the scenes, because it's not widely covered by the media, or because there's just so much all the time?

Take, for instance, how it's a critical role for presidents in our political system to make judicial and federal nominations and appointments. The recent Kavanaugh proceedings aside, these nominations and appointments, are often low-profile but just as insidious.

For instance, back in March 2017, the National Center for Transgender Equality noted that Trump had appointed Roger Severino to lead the Office of Civil Righs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. At the time, they and a handful of other human rights organizations expressed grave concern over the appointment of Severino, "whose extreme views opposing women’s rights and transgender people brought him to prominence on the far right." And yet now, Severino is leading the charge to impose false sex and gender definitions across multiple federal agencies.

(3) Republicans know they can get away with attacking trans people partly because they know that many people on the moderate-to-left side of the political spectrum, particularly cishet white men, will give them sufficient cover.

Remember the spate of articles right after the 2016 election, those high-and-mighty "I told you so" taunts of marginalized people: You people had this coming for obsessing about identity politics!

I think about Mark Lilla's version of this genre often. His piece was called, "The End of Identity Liberalism."  Wishful thinking, there? It was also published at The New York Times. For sufficient balance to all those "trans people are people" pieces, I suppose.

Even as Lilla suggests that people with (unlike himself?) identities are narcissists for wanting to be treated decently, his own piece is the height of self-centered lack of self-awareness. As you'll see, the pieces prove not that ordinary (read: white cishet men) Americans just want to focus on Issues Common to All Peoples, but that Hillary Clinton was right about them.

For, what else does one make of a mass of people who, by their own admission, simply don't care that their fellow human beings are treated inhumanely? For instance, Lilla snarked, "America is sick and tired of hearing about liberals' damn bathrooms," and gloated, "One of the many lessons of the recent presidential election campaign and its repugnant outcome is that the age of identity liberalism must be brought to an end."

There's also this opinion:

Pollan's "sage advice" is really an admission that a large portion of Trump's base will revel in the "liberal tears" over this matter, which will energize them straight to the polls! Which is deplorable for them to do. But, one of our current "just the way things are" things is that we don't, no matter what, call Trump fans deplorable, because Hillary said it first and gods forbid we collectively admit she was right about a good goddamned thing.

That fact aside, it continues to strike me as an especially inapt time to ditch identity politics right at the moment a rightwing regime has been targeting people precisely because of their identities. The thing is, you give this sadistic, rage-entitled incarnation of the Republican Party an inch and they'll take a mile. I simply don't have confidence that its leaders see much moral and practical distance between ending the age of "identity liberalism" and ending people of particular identities.

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