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Redefining Gender, ACLU and Transgender Iowan React to New York Times Report

DES MOINES, Iowa -- The New York Times is reporting that a memo drafted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is asking government agencies to adopt a uniform definition of gender, sparking protests and outrage in the LGBTQ community.

According to The Times, the suggested definition would see sex as male or female, unchangeable and defined by a person's genitals at birth.

Jack Schuler, a transgender man, says he felt something like this could be coming.

“It was disappointing, it hurt, but at the same time I wasn't surprised…It would attempt to force us back into the shadows of society, to force us to live a lie,” said Schuler.

If the government took the step to define gender as unchangeable, the ACLU of Iowa says it could roll back civil rights protections for transgender people.

“The narrowing of what someone's gender is not only unnecessary but it flies in the face of medical opinion,” said ACLU Executive Director Mark Stringer.

Earlier this year researchers in Europe discovered that the brain activity of transgender adolescents more closely resembled the brain patterns of their desired gender. Stringer says while transgender Iowans are protected under state code, it is not the same for everyone else.

“The fact that it's coming from the federal government does create a great deal of stress among a group of people who are already systematically disrespected in our society,” he said.

From a psychological standpoint, Schuler says the government defining gender under this proposal would have an immense impact on young people struggling with their gender identity.

“I think that's going to be very detrimental to them socially, mentally, possibly even physically and academically,” he said.

Schuler says he knows what that feels like. A 10-year veteran of the Army Reserves, he struggled when the Trump Administration pushed for a ban of transgender people in the military.

“It's almost as if the government is saying you're not good enough and you never will be. Despite what you've accomplished we don't think you're good enough. We think you're broken, and we don't want you” said Schuler.

The national branch of the ACLU says they will take the administration to court should these proposals go through.

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