WASHINGTON (CN) – The Trump administration is reportedly considering a new rule which would narrow the definition of gender, a move which could effectively strip 1.4 million transgender people in the United States of hard-won civil rights they only recently began to enjoy.
According to an internal agency memo obtained by The New York Times, the Department of Health and Human Services is considering a new definition of gender rooted in a “biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.”
A person’s gender would be based on the genitals they were born with and their birth certificate would “constitute definitive proof” of their sex unless “reliable genetic evidence” could refute that, the New York Times reported Saturday.
It is unclear how such genetic testing would be conducted or if it would be constitutional.
The president commented on the possible redefinition before boarding Marine One today, according to the White House travel pool.
“We’re looking at it. We have a lot of different concepts right now. They have a lot of different things happening with respect to transgender right now. You know that as well a I do, and we’re looking at it very seriously,” Trump said Monday.
When asked if he would uphold earlier promise he made to protect the LGBT community, Trump responded: “I’m protecting everybody. You know what I’m doing? I’m protecting everybody. I want to protect our country.”
Caitlin Oakley, a spokesperson for the Health and Human Services Department, said in a statement "We do not comment on alleged, leaked documents that purport to indicate the status of deliberations or the focus of the department.
"The Obama administration’s broad definition of ‘sex’ was enjoined by a federal court on a nationwide basis in December 2016 and the Obama administration did not appeal," Oakley continued. "That court found that the Obama administration regulation was overbroad and inconsistent with the text of the 1972 Title IX law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex.
"The court order remains in full force and effect today and HHS is bound by it as we continue to review the issue,” Oakley said. “Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and HHS’s Office for Civil Rights will continue to vigorously enforce all laws as written and passed by Congress, prohibiting discrimination in healthcare on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, and disability.”
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to request for comment Monday.
Kris Hayashi, executive director for the Transgender Law Center of California, called reports of the department’s proposed rule a “violent attack on the rights of transgender and gender non-conforming communities” which, if enforced, bars members of that community from access to comprehensive health care and education.
Hayashi described the move as the Trump administration’s “hate-motivated response” to legal victories won by the transgender community in recent years.
Like Ashton Whitaker, Hayashi said.
Whitaker, a student who was born female but began to more strongly identify as male in middle school, sued the Kenosha Unified School District in Wisconsin in 2016 for civil rights violations under Title IX.
Title IX are rules which prohibit gender discrimination within any educational programs which receive government funding.