By Drip Droplin
The sound of rain
WASHINGTON– This weekend a memo was obtained from President Donald J. Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) considering a reinterpretation of the federal law banning sex discrimination in public schools, Title IX. Passed as part of the Education Amendments of 1972, Title IX is a federal civil rights law that has significantly impacted the handling of athletic programs and sexual discrimination and harassment since its implementation. Under the Obama administration, guidelines were released to assist educators in protecting transgender students from sex-based discrimination at school. These provisions allowed students to essentially act in accordance with their gender identities in situations such as bathroom choice and single-gender classes. These guidelines were rolled back in the past year by Trump’s Education Department, headed by Betsy DeVos.
The HHS memo suggested that the administration would be redefining the law protecting students from sex discrimination using the term “sex” to specifically refer to the genitals present at birth. As any change to the legislation adopted by HHS would be expected to be upheld by the departments of Labor, Justice, and Education, civil rights groups have already taken issue with this possibility. Opponents of the potential change were outraged Monday when DeVos suggested taking the strict binary that would exist under the new proposal several steps further.
“Schoolboards need to be prepared for any kind of student that walks through federally-funded doors,” DeVos said in a private interview, “to that end, the Department of Education needs to start collecting a
much more robust set of data about all potential incoming students.” According to the Department of Education head, the solution here is a simple one: field guides.
Though the DoE has no power over hospital practices at a federal level, its casual recommendation is to provide all new parents with a set of identification materials upon the birth of their infant, so they can make sure they know how to classify the child from the get-go. Like dichotomous keys often used by ecologists to identify trees, these booklets would be fully illustrated, and would guide new parents through a set of questions about their baby’s key characteristics so that they, and the government, could know exactly how the child will need to be treated before it started forming identities of its own. Points of identification would include biological sex, apparent sexual orientation, eyelash length, center of gravity, projected foot size, bowel transit time, predicted career aptitudes, and ruling element based on palm shape and finger length.