Don’t Define ‘Sex’ To Exclude Transgender, AG Healey Says;
19 State AGs On Board, 31 Not

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Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is leading 18 other Democratic attorneys general in calling for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services not to define the word “sex” as only either male or female.

Healey sent a letter to two federal agencies making the case that defining “sex” in conventional terms would harm transgender people and others who do not identify with the gender that conforms to their biological sex.

“Our federal laws and policies should promote basic principles of nondiscrimination and inclusion rather than single out people for disparate treatment and exclusion,” Healey writes in the letter to the secretaries of the federal Health and Human Services department and of the federal Department of Education, dated Monday, November 19.

In October, the New York Times reported that the Trump Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services was considering defining “sex” as either male or female, which might change the Obama administration’s inclusion of transgender people as entitled to federal laws and regulations prohibiting sex discrimination.

Healey says that’s a bad idea.

“Despite clear evidence of the serious harms that discrimination continues to inflict on the transgender community, the Administration seems intent not only on rolling back existing federal civil rights protections for this vulnerable population, but also denying transgender people even basic recognition. There is no sound basis in science, policy, or law for taking such a drastic step backward. And the sort of prejudice and intolerance reflected in this effort is antithetical to our values as Americans,” the letter states.

The letter reveals a fault line in American politics between the two major political parties.

All 19 state attorneys general who signed the letter are Democrats. The attorney general of the District of Columbia, who also signed the letter, is also a Democrat.

Three Democratic state attorneys general did not sign the letter:  those in Maine, Kentucky, and Mississippi.

All 27 Republican state attorneys general – including the one in New Hampshire – did not sign the letter. The attorney general of Alaska, who is an independent, also did not sign the letter.

Among the 19 states where attorneys general signed the letter are four of the six New England states (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Vermont), as well as California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington state.

Among the 31 states where attorneys general did not sign the letter are two New England states (New Hampshire and Maine), as well as Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.