Science Proves Trump Is Wrong About Transgender People
In spite of numerous studies proving gender identity is determined by the brain, the Trump administration aims to redefine transgender people’s rights away.
Six days before The New York Times published its exclusive and horrifying article revealing the Trump administration’s plans to roll back recognition and civil rights for transgender people, actor and producer Trace Lysette tweeted, actually demanded, cisgender women “DO BETTER.”
Her tweet told the story of her male friend “who dates trans and cis women.” All too often cisgender women tell the man that the transgender woman he is dating is “a man.”
Lysette, a transgender woman who has acted alongside Patrick Stewart in the Starz comedy Blunt Talk and the now disgraced Jeffrey Tambor in Amazon’s Transparent, observed later in her tweet “they are warning him.”
Sadly, but not surprisingly, Lysette’s tweet prophetically announced the Department of Health and Human Services’ ultimate objective. After working to ban transgender public school students from using the bathroom that matches their gender identity and to prevent transgender men and women from serving in the U.S. military, Trump and his administration’s latest plan is yet another “warning” to cisgender people that not only are transgender men and women not actual men and women but that they are not fellow Americans and human beings.
Science, however, proves otherwise. Our brains determine gender and nothing else. Transgender men are men and transgender women are women. Case closed.
Trump’s policies and arguments are always linguistic abominations, but they become nonsensical dystopian horror because of his allergy to quantitative scientific data. The plan outlined in HHS’s memo falls apart once science enters the picture.
The Scientific Defense Of Transgender People
In 2016, Harvard University published a blog post that cited several scientific studies that used brain MRIs on transgender men and women and then compared those to the MRIs of cisgender men and women. The MRIs clearly showed the brains of transgender men and women did not align with the biological sex they were born with. Instead, the brains of transgender women were alike to cisgender women and the brains of transgender men were alike to the brains of cisgender men.
The blog post acknowledged how hormone replacement affects brain structure. Because of this, a few research teams conducted studies on transgender women and men before they began hormonal transitioning. The post’s author Katherine J. Wu states, “Several studies confirmed previous findings, showing once more that transgender people appear to be born with brains more similar to gender with which they identify, rather than the one to which they were assigned.”
This year at their meeting in Barcelona, Spain, the European Society of Endocrinology presented findings from Doctor Julie Baker from the University of Liège, Belgium along with her Center of Expertise on Gender Dysphoria colleagues. These brain MRIs demonstrated “brain activation in both transgender adolescent boys and girls more closely resembled that of non-transgender boys and girls of their desired gender.”
Like with climate change, Trump and his administration refuse or are unable to take in peer-reviewed scientific data. These studies (and more that are occurring as you read this news analysis) prove the human brain determines gender.
To make matters worse, certain people in America outside the government refuse to acknowledge this scientific evidence as well. As with the Trump administration, their ignorance enables them to act upon their uncontrollable and cruel need to isolate, ridicule, harass and harm transgender men and women.
The Real World Consequences Of Transphobia
Transphobia has resulted in the deaths of transgender men and women. According to the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, suicidal ideation, attempted suicides and completed suicides “are considerably high compared to [the] general population.”
But the destruction of life doesn’t end at a transgender man and woman’s own hands. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, “More than one in four transgender people have lost a job due to bias, and more than three-fourths have experienced some form of workplace discrimination.” The National Center for Transgender Equality also confirms what numerous news stories over the decades have reported: transgender people will not contact law enforcement for help before, during, or after violent attacks.
Transgender people also face homelessness. In her 2017 Refinery29 article, Lauren Holter cited a Human Rights Campaign and Trans People of Color study that “estimate[d] trans women face 4.3 times more the risk of being murdered compared to cis women in the U.S., and at least 87% of trans people murdered from 2013 to 2015 were people of color.”
The feminist movement is not immune from transphobia either. As a feminist and current women’s and gender studies graduate student at DePaul University, I am aware of trans-exclusionary feminists, also known as TERFs, like the late Mary Daly, her protégée Janice Raymond and The Female Eunuch author and feminist provocateur Germaine Greer.
In her essay and performance piece “My Words to Victor Frankenstein above the Village of Chamounix: Performing Transgender Rage,” writer and academic Susan Stryker, a transgender woman, responded to Daly and Raymond before discussing the pain felt by too many transgender men and women. She quotes from the journal of a pre-operative transgender woman named Filisa Vistima who later committed suicide. In her journal, Vistima simply wishes she physically resembled a cisgender woman “so [she] could go swimming.”
Simple activities like swimming are taken for granted by cisgender men and cisgender women. Simple activities like being a productive member of society are taken for granted by cisgender men and cisgender women — the same cisgender men and cisgender women who will march in parades and write letters to their Congressional representatives when they know their own civil rights and liberties are being trampled by the same administration trampling the civil rights of the transgender community.
As a cisgender woman who has always heeded Trace Lysette’s call, I also call on my fellow cisgender women to support and advocate for the transgender community and call on cisgender men to do the same. Unlike Trump and his colleagues who don’t accept science and are destroying the Bill of Rights by a thousand cuts, we can and should “DO BETTER.”