Hide and Seek
“We, the undersigned businesses, stand with the millions of people in America who identify as transgender, gender non-binary, or intersex, and call for all such people to be treated with the respect and dignity everyone deserves. We oppose any administrative and legislative efforts to erase transgender protections through reinterpretation of existing laws and regulations. We also fundamentally oppose any policy or regulation that violates the privacy rights of those that identify as transgender, gender non-binary, or intersex.”
Thus begins the brief, succinct statement issued and signed by 56 major companies in the aftermath of recent threats by the federal administration to redefine gender. The new definition would “change federal civil-rights law to include a definition of sex as ‘a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth.’”
The press release accompanying the statement noted, “The companies signing the statement as part of its launch represent nearly 4.8 million employees, have a collective annual revenue of more than $2.4 trillion, and are drawn from a broad range of industries including financial services, consumer products, and technology. Additional corporate signatories are expected to join the letter in the coming days.”
Hide and Seek is one of the standby games of childhood. As one person closes their eyes and counts, the rest of the group hides and attempts to avoid being discovered by the one who is “it.” This game is a throwback to earlier days, when members of the trans community wanted to remain hidden, but the previous administration sought them out to offer protection of their rights.
Today, the present administration is attempting to take their rights away. They close their eyes, and want the trans community to disappear altogether.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which issued this government directive, is focusing on Title IX as its source for redefinition of gender. Title IX says that no person shall be excluded from participation in or be denied benefits or be subjected to discrimination based on gender.
HHS said, “Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth. The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.” While the standard undocumented claim is that the new definition is grounded in science, it will ultimately show itself to be science fiction.
This policy, if instituted, would have a tremendous impact on schools, athletics, businesses, and public life in general. Needless to say, the reaction has been swift and passionate. The tremendous support shown by the business world in this newly-issued statement provides the impetus for others to express their opposition and outrage.
In addition to the responses shared in various media, there are heartfelt reactions showing the real danger of this policy, if enacted. The Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, Mara Keisling, stated, “This proposal is an attempt to put heartless restraints on the lives of two million people, effectively abandoning our right to equal access to health care, to housing, to education, or to fair treatment under the law. This administration is willing to disregard the established medical and legal view of our rights and ourselves to solidify an archaic, dogmatic, and frightening view of the world.”
A Rally for Trans Existence and Resistance at Love Park in Philadelphia was held in support of transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming individuals. Among the speakers was Dr. Rachel Levine, who shared a powerful message. “I am Rachel Levine; I am a parent; I am a doctor; I am a professor; I am Secretary of Health for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; and I am a transgender woman. I have an important message today for anyone who is trans and struggling to live their truth openly: We are here to support you, to help you, and protect you. We will not relent because we cannot put an entire generation at risk by denying them their rights.”
Hide and seek. Whose eyes are closed now? Only those who seek to perpetuate fear, hatred, and distrust. The trans community will no longer run and hide. They will rise. They will be seen. They will be heard. Their voices are loud and clear, and this writer raises his voice with theirs.
The closing portion of the press release by those 56 companies reads, “Transgender people are our beloved family members and friends, and our valued team members. What harms transgender people harms our companies. We call for respect and transparency in policy-making, and for equality under the law for transgender people.”
No more hiding. No more seeking. Our transgender friends are here to stay. As one of this writer’s friends stated, “The freedom of this country is rooted in the choices we can make, not the things we can force upon others.” ▼
David Garrett is a straight advocate for equality and inclusion. He is also the proud father of an adult transdaughter. Email David Garrett