USGD responds to Trump's proposal to define gender

USGD senators signed a resolution condemning the leaked memo

Undergraduate Student Government Downtown recently penned a resolution decrying a leaked memo by the Department of Health and Human Services that attempts to legally define gender under Title IX. 

The memo laid out a potential plan to define gender as a "person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth," according to the New York Times. Additionally, if passed, it would redefine gender for transgender and non-binary individuals in federally funded education programs. 

"I was appalled, but I wasn't surprised," Hannah Ehrlich, a USGD senator and sophomore majoring in journalism, said."I expected this out of Trump, and I think this is the time when we have to stand with our students, and we have to speak up about it. We can't let this be a casual thing that Trump gets away with."

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Ehrlich said this is an issue that comes very close to her heart. 

"This would affect all in the trans community, and there are millions of people that identify as trans in America and so many at ASU as well," she said. "So that would automatically ... say that they don't exist, that they don't matter and...wouldn't validate who they are."

Though the memo was never officially published by HHS, it sparked controversy, and USGD wrote a resolution in response.


"If there's an issue or something and it comes to our attention, we write a resolution about a possible stance we want to take on it, and then we get student feedback on it," Yasmin Alvarado, USGD senate president and a sophomore studying public service and public policy, said. "The student feedback helps us decide how to vote on resolutions."

The resolution was passed unanimously by the USGD senate and signed by both Alvarado and USGD President Aly Perkins.

The move by student government decrying the memo could be seen by some as contradictory to their commitment to bipartisanship.

College Republicans United at ASU, a splinter organization from the College Republicans at ASU, released a statement expressing their views on the issue. 

"(CRU) supports the rights of LBGTQ citizens equally the same as anyone else in our society. That doesn't mean granting special privileges or pandering to intersectional identity politics. There are only two genders, XX & XY. The notion that gender is a spectrum is as biologically inaccurate as declaring yourself as another species. Gender Dysphoria is a serious mental illness that should not be normalized in society. We care deeply about the feelings of those who suffer from this disorder but recognize the harm in indulging this behavior."

Rick Thomas, president of CRU and senior studying elementary education, added that they fully support President Trump's proposed modification of Title IX.

In addition, there has also been an outpouring of support for the trans community from several different groups on campus. 

"We, as a whole, the Orthodox society, do not agree with discrimination at all," Theodore Kyriacou, vice president of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship at ASU and biomedical engineering graduate student, said. "So we do not discriminate against people ... We love everyone, whether they agree with us or not, and we treat everyone the same."

The University Presbyterian Church in Tempe also released a similar statement in support of USGD's resolution stating that they fully support and love all people, no matter what sex or gender they may identify with.

The legal ramifications around such a memo are unprecedented. 

"The Trump administration is not in a position legally to say you or I have to define our sex in any way," Zachary Kramer, associate dean of faculty at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, said. "What they're saying is that as we read this one law ... they are encouraging this one definition (of gender). But again, there is still space to contest that."

Kramer said that if this memo were to actually go into effect, it would easily be contested by the courts.

"Really what we're talking about is not what affirmative steps our institution is going to be taking, but more of how are courts going to interpret Title IX in cases before the ruling," he said.

Ehrlich said USGD will always stand with the LGBTQ community.

"(This USGD resolution) is saying ... 'We're not okay with what the Trump administration has done here, and we will stand with them no matter what,'" Ehrlich said.


 Reach the reporter at mlshuman@asu.edu or follow @mackenzieshuman on Twitter.

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