Friends, I try to keep politics to a minimum here because I honestly have views that tend to draw some very ugly reactions (usually involving references to helicopter rides by skeevy types with frog avatars), but this is an issue that is extremely important to me.
There is a bill currently going into subcommittee that has some troubling implications. HB2796 will annihilate any advances in trans rights made by the Obama administration (who failed to do enough to protect our rights, BTW).
However, it reaches much further than that.
You may not think that defining the sexes based on genetics is a problem, but it creates a host of problems. First of all, it creates a legal limbo for genetically intersex people. Yes, it's rare but it's not as rare as people suppose (it's probably underreported because few people have actually had genetic tests done on them unless they had outward signs of something being out of the ordinary). I'm kicking myself for not saving the link, but I remember reading recently that the number of intersex individuals may be as high as 1 in 25 people.
What's more, the bill makes no provisions for enforcement. The bill does not make provisions for genetic testing nor does it specify the exact genetic definition of "male" and "female" which makes it extremely problematic for XY females and XX males, and for unusual combinations like XXY. It also does not say whether the burden of proof is on the state or the individual in cases where the matter is contested. This effectively puts court proceedings regarding a case where the genetic sex of the individual is disputed in legal limbo. It's a poorly-considered boondogle of a bill with no real concept of how genetics actually work.
This bill could also conceivably void gender-corrected US passports, which would strand travelers and make serious incursions into the freedom of movement for trans people. Even if a replacement with one's physical sex was provided, travelers who appear to be a different gender from their stated sex often encounter serious problems when traveling abroad. This is effectively forcing trans people to dress and behave like their birth sex in order to be allowed to leave the country, which is disturbing because it's legislating us back into the closet. I can't accept that. This isn't some drag act that I can just shut off without serious consequences for my mental health. The myth of the "transtrender" is doing real harm to people for whom transition has only just become a viable option.
It would gut many state medical budgets for care for transgender patients, which is already lagging badly in the US compared to most EU countries. It would legalize discrimination in local and state bureaucracies in states that don't have statues protecting us. It would legalize discrimination in housing, education, employment, and businesses. I'm fortunate enough to live in Oregon where it's all pretty good, but I've lived elsewhere and I really think the trans community deserves better than what many states have to offer.
But the most disturbing thing about this legislation is the bill's stated intent:
"To repeal executive overreach, to clarify that the proper constitutional authority for social transformation belongs to the legislative branch."
What's wrong with this statement?
The authority for social transformation has always been afforded to all three branches of government and the strongest of these historically has always been the judiciary, not the legislature. We did not get Brown v. The Board of Education or Oberfell v. Hodges through the legislative branch, we got them in spite of the legislative branch dragging their feet. The Obama reforms came through the executive branch which is the weakest agent of reform, but my point still stands: if all three branches of government cannot take some role in the creation of social policy then there is no point having checks and balances.
In short, it advocates preventing the overreach of the other branches of government by allowing the overreach of one branch of the government.
I know what you're probably thinking. "But Three," you might say, "won't the courts stop that?"
Well, no. We can't stake our trust on this because all of the political norms of the last 241 years have come grinding to a halt. Despotism occurs when people ignore outrageous legislation and allow it to pass on some misguided belief that the system will right itself. It's like believing that cancer will go away if you look the other way. It's wishful thinking and it allows the problem to metastasize until the point of no return.
If you care about checks and balances, call your representatives. If you care about a transgender friend or neighbor, call your representatives. If you care about preventing bad, unenforceable policy based on a 4th grader's understanding of genetics, call your representatives. I can't emphasize this enough.
Here is the text of this bill: