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What if society pretended you didn't exist?

Giselle Chacón: "I know personally that gender dysphoria and transgender identities are real, and yet nobody is listening on the other side of the conversation."
Photo credit:
Chuck Lapinski

"The mission of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is to enhance the health and well-being of all Americans, by providing for effective health and human services and by fostering sound, sustained advances in the sciences underlying medicine, public health, and social services." 

Earlier this week, an internal HHS memo leaked to the NY Times states:

“Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth,” [the Dept. of Health and Human Services] proposed in the memo, which was drafted and has been circulating since last spring. “The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.”

Unfortunately, the proposed policy disregards the consensus of the greater scientific and medical communities. It would eliminate established legal and medical definitions necessary to treat nearly 2 million transgender and intersex Americans humanely and fairly in healthcare and law. 

Where the policy recommendation came from is a matter of speculation. However, its language closely resembles literature published by a well-funded religious political action group known as The Heritage Foundation, where HHS Office of Civil Rights head Roger Severino formerly worked as an activist against LGBT rights. 

While my initial reaction to news of this initiative was to stack evidence in order to prove the memo was flawed, I soon realized that facts are of no use when people are already well informed of evidence contrary to their assertions, and they simply don't care. I know personally that gender dysphoria and transgender identities are real, and yet nobody is listening on the other side of the conversation. Ironically, we who suffer the real impact of gender issues must fight to be heard amongst the opinions of cisgender celebrities and religious demagogues who know nothing of the subject. 

Scientists and physicians have long known that there are more than two genetic sexes. In addition, psychologists have established that gender identity is an attribute separate from assigned sex and that the only known treatment effective for gender dysphoria is a medical transition. Denying transgender and intersex people legal and medical recognition undermines their prognosis.  Sanctions against transgender and intersex people are unjustified and pointless; there are no statistics demonstrating they represent a significant threat to society. 

The policy proposed by this memo would be devastating to millions of people without accomplishing any benefit to anyone. It contradicts Health and Human Services own mission statement; enhancing nothing at the expense of Americans' health and well-being. It is contrary to the advancement of sound, sustained advances in the sciences underlying medicine, public health, and social services. It even seeks to dictate their conclusions based upon preconceived notions, while censoring their discoveries in accordance to a political agenda, merely to preserve outdated definitions, theories, and religious precepts.

We are told we are demanding too much space when really most of us are just trying to find someplace - any place - to fit in. Our sense of self is different from most people, but it doesn't seek to redefine anyone. We simply need to make some adjustments in order to lead healthy, productive lives, and to preserve our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as is the right of all Americans.

How would you feel if society pretended you didn't exist? Redefining sex to exclude transgender and intersex people is wrong. Because it isn't necessary or justified. It's just plain mean.

About the author:

Giselle Chacón is a transgender musician/composer from San Diego, California. Since her retirement from entertainment to pursue treatment for gender dysphoria in 2015, she has worked as a freelance writer and internet content creator.

She is currently producing an independent album of her music and working on a memoir of her life growing up transgender in the 1970s and her experience with conversion therapy as a child and young adult.

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[1] Mission statement of the US Dept of Health & Human Services, www.hhs.gov/about

[1] NYTimes Oct 21, 2018

[1] https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/03/20/591833000/civil-rig...

[1] https://transcendlegal.org/medical-organization-statements