More than 1,600 scientists have signed an open letter calling on the Trump administration to withdraw its proposal to legally erase transgender people.
The signatories of the November 1 letter, who include nine Nobel Prize winners, said that the leaked Department of Health and Human Services memo, revealed by The New York Times on October 21, was “fundamentally inconsistent not only with science, but also with ethical practices, human rights, and basic dignity.”
The proposal suggested defining a person’s sex as unchangeably male or female from birth, barring official recognition of trans people. Trump later confirmed that the White House was “looking at” imposing a new transgender policy.
In their message, which is titled “Transgender, intersex, and gender non-conforming people #WontBeErased by pseudoscience,” the 1,642 scientists—which count more than 700 biologists and more than 100 geneticists in their number—take apart the memo.
“The proposal is in no way ‘grounded in science’ as the administration claims,” they state. “The relationship between sex chromosomes, genitalia, and gender identity is complex, and not fully understood.
“There are no genetic tests that can unambiguously determine gender, or even sex.
“Furthermore, even if such tests existed, it would be unconscionable to use the pretext of science to enact policies that overrule the lived experience of people’s own gender identities.”
They warned that turning this proposal into policy could “cause grave harm” to the millions of Americans who identify as trans, gender non-conforming and intersex.
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“Multiple standards of health care for transgender and intersex people emphasise that recognising an individual’s self-identified gender, not their external genitalia or chromosomes, is the best practice for providing evidence-based, effective, and lifesaving care,” they explained.
“Our best available evidence shows that affirmation of gender identity is paramount to the survival, health, and livelihood of transgender and intersex people.
“Given its scientific and ethical failings, we call upon the administration to withdraw this proposed policy.”
“We also ask our elected representatives to oppose its implementation, as it would cause grave harm to transgender and intersex Americans and weaken the constitutional rights of all Americans,” the scientists added.
“Transgender and intersex people deserve equal access to the rights, livelihoods, liberties, and dignity to which we are all entitled on the basis of our shared humanity.”
Transgender suicide hotline Trans Lifeline said it received four times as many calls after the proposal was made public, and twice as many first-time callers as normal.
The leaked memo led trans activists to hold “We Will Not Be Erased” protests outside the White House and in New York and Washington State, among other locations, and around 1,500 parents of trans children to write an open letter to “bullies” Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
They said that the proposal was “the latest cruel attempt in a long line of attacks to diminish the existence and humanity of our children and to dismantle their basic human and civil rights.
“We want to make this very clear—when our children are under attack, we will fight like hell to protect them,” they added.