Maryland AG Signs Letter Opposing Narrow Federal Definition of Gender

    Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) has joined a coalition calling on the Trump administration to abandon an effort to adopt a federal definition of gender that would exclude transgender and gender-nonconforming people from the protections of federal civil rights laws.

    Frosh was one of 20 state attorneys general who signed on to a letter sent Monday to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Education to express “deep concern” over the possible change, which would exclude some people from the protections of civil rights laws like Title IX and the nondiscrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

    Last month, The New York Times reported that officials in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services were considering adopting a narrow definition of sex as an immutable, biological trait determined by or before birth — and that the department was urging other agencies, including the Department of Education, to do the same.

    The letter said that the change would target a community that already experiences serious harm as the result of discrimination.

    “Transgendered and gender non-conforming members of our communities are entitled to legal protection,” Frosh said in a written statement. “Our federal government should promote the values of nondiscrimination and inclusiveness, not create laws and regulations that subject people to discrimination and harassment.”

    In addition to Maryland, the letter was joined by attorneys general from California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. The letter was sent by Maura Healey, the attorney general of Massachusetts.

    “There are an estimated 1.4 million transgender people living in the United States, and many more who do not conform to traditional gender norms,” the attorneys general wrote in the letter to DHS Secretary Alex M. Azar II and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. “Transgender people are our coworkers, neighbors, friends, and family members. Transgender people contribute to our communities in countless ways—as parents, educators, public safety officers, artists, medical professionals, and business owners, to name a few. They also serve in our Armed Forces. These residents are worthy of dignity and respect, and deserve the full protection of our laws.”

    [email protected]

    Danielle E. Gaines
    Danielle Gaines most recently worked for Bethesda Beat covering Montgomery County. Previously, she spent six years at The Frederick News-Post as the paper’s principal government and politics reporter for half that time, covering courts and legal affairs before that. She also reported for the now-defunct The Gazette of Politics and Business in Maryland and previously worked as a county government and education reporter at the Merced Sun-Star in California’s Central Valley.