The administration’s attack should be understood not only as an attack on trans people, which it is, but also as part of a broader, terrifying approach to race, gender and authority that characterizes the entire presidency. This memo shows how the administration aims to enhance the significance of legal gender and establish narrow definitions to enforce it, which is part of a broader agenda to roll back feminist reforms. One of the most fundamental assertions of feminism is that the meaning of gender categories is socially constructed and enforced through norms, and that gender assignments should not determine how and what people can be, and do.
The Health and Human Services memo leak is aligned with a broader patriarchal and authoritarian ideology about enforcing a gendered worldview that constrains everyone, especially those most touched by state systems that target and control the lives of poor people and people of color. This new move dovetails with the administration’s work to embolden and expand resources to the military, police and immigration enforcement. All of this strengthens the violent enforcement of race, gender and class hierarchies in our lives. All of them will directly result in increased sexual and gender violence in the lives of the poorest people.