By Mischa Haider
The Guardian (10/22/18)
Attacking transgender people – especially transgender women – has become a favorite strategy for authoritarians, and Trump is no exception. On Sunday, the New York Times reported that the Trump administration is attempting to narrow gender identity to the one assigned at birth – thereby denying transgender people their place in society.
This is a deliberate attempt to deploy tried and tested transphobic messaging to rile up his voter base ahead of the midterm elections. Trump wants to rally conservatives while engaging in attacking a marginalized group that it is still socially acceptable to target. Unfortunately, support and inclusion of transgender individuals even among mainstream progressives is lacking, and even some self-proclaimed feminist movements advocate for trans exclusion in ways similar to the recent Trump directives.
It is not a coincidence that with increasing pushes towards gender equality and justice across the globe, patriarchal forces are striking back violently and propelling anti-women leaders such as Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro towards power.
The irony in this is that if we peel the onion it becomes clear that transgender people are not actually the real target of such authoritarian leaders. Though transgender people will be the ones annihilated on the frontlines, figuratively and literally, by this tactic, we form too small a minority to pose a serious threat to authoritarianism. Women’s liberation is what autocrats are attempting to quell with anti-trans measures. Strongmen have made their hostility and contempt for women clear, whether it is through promotion of rape as was done by the Filipino leader Rodrigo Duterte, or pushing a US supreme court nominee credibly accused of sexual assault while insulting his accusers, in the case of Donald Trump.
Gender equality & democracy
Substantial evidence exists showing that gender equality and greater participation of women in the democratic process leads to more inclusive and socially oriented forms of government. Autocrats rely heavily on the “might is right” model and perpetuation of socially constructed violent models of misogyny in order to exert power, and women’s equality and liberation challenges basic tenets of totalitarianism. …
- Trump Admin Attempts to Erase Existence of Trans People After Years of GOP-Led Attacks on Freedoms / Democracy Now! — The New York Times reports that the Trump administration is attempting to eliminate the rights of transgender people by creating a narrow legal definition of gender. Citing a government memo, the Times reveals that the Department of Health and Human Services has undertaken an effort across several government agencies to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans discrimination on the basis of sex. That definition would be either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals a person is born with. The Times reports that the memo says, “Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth. The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex.” If enacted, the proposal would reverse the expansion of transgender rights that took place under President Barack Obama. We speak with Chase Strangio, staff attorney at the ACLU. Link to Story, Transcript and 12-Minute Video
- Trump Administration Considering Narrowing Definition Of ‘Gender’ — The Trump administration may be considering redefining gender as an unchangeable condition determined solely by a person’s biology, according to a leaked memo draft obtained by The New York Times. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services argued in the drafted memo, which has not been seen by NBC News, that the government needs to adopt a uniformed definition of gender “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable,” the Times reported. The memo has allegedly been circulating since last spring, according to the Times, and would be subject to change. If enacted as written in the memo, the legal definition of sex under Title IX, which prevents gender discrimination, would be determined as male or female based on the genitals a person was born with as listed on the person’s birth certificate. Disputes would have to be settled using genetic testing, according to the Times. … Read the Rest
- Former GOP Strategist Rick Wilson Chilled By Trump’s Public Embrace Of Nationalism: ‘Violence is the almost inevitable endpoint’ — Republican strategist Rick Wilson found himself deeply disturbed by President Donald Trump’s decision to embrace overt nationalism this week, and he thinks that the logical outcome of that ideology will lead to violence on the streets of America. Writing in the Daily Beast, Wilson breaks down the history of nationalism in the 20th century and explains how governments that have embraced it as their guiding creed have almost always ended in calamity. … Read the Rest
(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2018. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )
The Fascist Politics Of Sexual Anxiety & Lies
“If the demagogue is the father of the nation, then any threat to patriarchal manhood and the traditional family undermines the fascist vision of strength. These threats include the crimes of rape and assault, as well as so-called sexual deviance. The politics of sexual anxiety is particularly effective when traditional male roles, such as that of family provider, are already under threat by economic forces.”
— Jason Stanley, “How Fascism Works: The Politics Of US and THEM”, 2018, (p.127).
- BBC / Truth, Lies And Trump’s Manipulated Narrative Of Sweden Immigrant Crisis — Earlier this year Donald Trump made claims about an out-of-control crisis of immigrant-fueled crime and sexual assault in Sweden. As with all things Trumpian, the gap between rhetoric and truth is wide. Link to 18-minute Video