The President’s War on Transgender People

President Trump doesn’t have many long suits, and, most assuredly, making policy on the basis of science, evidence and truth is not among them. His latest broadside against transgender people—i.e. sex is determined immutably by one’s genitalia as described on the person’s birth certificate—is a perfect example of his mean-spirited intellectual dishonesty.

Setting aside that Mr. Trump is launching his personal war on transgender people, to demonize them, to, theoretically, legislate away their existence, and, chiefly, to suck up to his evangelical right-wing base, neither science, evidence nor truth support what he hopes to accomplish.
Here is a sampling of the actual science, evidence, and truth about gender identity based on studies and the overwhelming consensus of the scientific and medical communities and professional organizations:

  • Every person has a “gender identity” which cannot be altered voluntarily and cannot be ascertained “immutably” after birth by a mere genital examination. While most people have a gender identity that aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth, some individuals have a core identification and a self-image of belonging to a gender (i.e. gender identity) that does not align with their assigned sex at birth.
  • Gender dysphoria is the clinical diagnostic classification that describes an individual who has clinically-significant distress resulting from a lack alignment between the individual’s gender identity (i.e. the person’s sense of self as belonging to a particular gender) and the person’s assigned sex at birth, determined by the individual’s genitalia. Studies have shown that persons with gender dysphoria have brain structure, connectivity, and function that do not match their birth-assigned sex.
  • “Transgender” is not a medical or psychiatric diagnosis and is neither pathological nor a mental illness.
  • Approximately 1.4 million Americans (and about 3 thousand Montanans) identify as transgender.
  • Adults, adolescents, and children, as young as 2, may identify as transgender.
  • The most accurate and appropriate determinant of sex is the person’s gender identity. Gender identity must control when assigning sex. No assessment other than gender identity can provide an accurate measure of an individual’s sex, and to assign sex counter to a person’s gender identity is harmful to the individual.

Instead of acknowledging actual scientific and medical facts about transgender people, however, President Trump seeks to simply stamp these Americans and Montanans with a gender identity that is foreign to who they really are and to their sense of self.

Worse, the President seeks to demonize and marginalize transgender people for political gain–to make himself the hero of his evangelical, right-wing base. Instead of using his bully pulpit to spread the truth and to unite, he uses it to do what he does best— to bully, to abuse and to encourage division, bigotry, and hate.

In so doing, President Trump refuses to acknowledge that transgender people are our fellow Americans and Montanans—and that they are entitled to the same Constitutional rights, including their rights to personal autonomy, privacy, and human dignity, that the rest of “us” take for granted.

Indeed, Mr. Trump has stated that his policy against transgender people is designed to protect “us.” Protect “us” from what, Mr. President?

In truth, we don’t need protection from transgender people, Mr. Trump. Rather, the question of more urgent concern is, who is going to protect “us” from you.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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About the author

James C. Nelson

James C. Nelson (Ret) was an associate justice of the Montana Supreme Court. He took office in May of 1993, following an appointment by then-governor Marc Racicot, and he retired on December 31, 2012.


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    • There are some things that are social constructs; such as race, politics, or fashion. Gender, however, isn’t one of them. Gender is a physical aspect of brain function.

      Trans ideology is indeed regressive, but you’re the one with the ideology. The author is just stating the facts.

    • I have opened comments on the site again because I worry that Facebook is too much of a closed feedback loop and I do welcome discourse. That being said, the comments here will never be a place where you can express hateful or discriminatory views about other human beings. You’re welcome to try again, but I have edited your comment.

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