Trump confirms White House is ‘looking at’ imposing new transgender policy despite outcry

President Donald Trump has confirmed that the White House is “looking at” imposing a new transgender policy, after a leaked memo from Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on the issue led to public outcry.

According to the document seen by The New York Timesthe department wants to define a person’s sex as either male or female as identified by “immutable biological traits” at birth, barring recognition of transgender people.

Although the HHS branded the New York Times report “misleading,” Trump struck a different tone when he was asked about the issue by reporters while boarding Marine One at the White House on Monday (October 22).

Asked if he was “giving up” on election promises to protect transgender Americans, Trump responded: “We’re looking at it. We have a lot of different concepts right now.

“They have a lot of different things happening with respect to transgender right now. You know that as well as I do and we’re looking at it very seriously.”

President Donald Trump speaks to the media before departing on Marine One at the White House on October 22, 2018. (Mark Wilson/Getty)

Asked if he would protect the LGBT+ community, he responded: “I’m protecting everybody.”

When a reporter told the leader that “transgender Americans say you’ve given up on them,” Trump replied: “You know what I’m doing? I’m protecting everybody. I want to protect our country.”

Trump’s comments came the same day that LGBT+ activists held a ‘We Will Not Be Erased’ protest outside the White House.

Trans activists rally in front of the White House. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

The head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also appeared to caution against the HHS plan, warning about the proposed definition’s negative impact on public health.

“We need to understand that stigmatising illness, stigmatising individuals is not in the interest of public health,” CDC director Robert Redfield said when asked about the potential health impact of the plan in an interview with STAT released Tuesday.

Redfield avoided direct criticism of the plan. However his intervention is significant given his own patchy record on LGBT+ issues. He previously served on the board of Americans for a Sound AIDS/HIV Policy (ASAP)—an evangelical Christian group that worked in opposition to major HIV/AIDS efforts among the LGBT+ community.

Robert RedfieldThe HHS memo seeks to enforce a definition of sex across government that is defined by genitalia “on a biological basis,” effectively erasing the notion of gender identity.

According to the New York Times, the leaked memo says: “Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth.

“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.”

The leaked memo has been met with legal threats from both the American Civil Liberties Union and LGBT+ civil rights organisation Lambda Legal, who have vowed to launch immediate legal action against the Trump administration if the policy is ever enacted.