Gender self-determination is not government’s business

Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the government’s treatment of individuals, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration or military service laws.

President Donald Trump’s administration is taking aim at transgender Americans. According to a leaked draft memo released by the New York Times, the Department of Health and Human Services is considering this redefinition: “Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth.” There are many things wrong with this definition, but chief among them is that it’s scientifically incorrect. According to the Intersex Society of North America, approximately 1 percent of people cannot be so simply classified based on their biology. There are at least 16 biological and medical conditions that deviate from the usual male or female classifications. Examples include Klinefelter’s syndrome, adrenal hyperplasia, and gonadal dysgenesis.

This definition also ignores a basic principle of civil society: A matter as personal as gender identification should be decided by the person involved, not by the government. At the 2016 Republican convention, candidate Trump promised to stand up for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. That led prominent transgender rights activist Caitlyn Jenner to join the Republican Party, expressing belief that she “could work within the party and the Trump administration to shift the minds of those who most needed shifting.” In a recent Washington Post column, she acknowledged that she had been wrong.

Last year, Libertarian National Committee Chair Nicholas Sarwark, who is also now running for mayor of Phoenix, anticipated Jenner’s eventual disenchantment with the GOP and issued this invitation:

Dear Caitlyn Jenner,

If you are tired of your political party denigrating you for who you are, tired of them demeaning and degrading you, I want to personally extend an invitation to join the Libertarian Party.

We are not as big as the Republican Party. We don’t have as many representatives, senators, or presidents as the Republican Party.

In fact, we are a small minority, despised and derided by establishment politicians from both of the old parties. There’s no reason for you to leave the size and safety of the Republicans.

Except, what we lack in size, we make up for by our commitment to the rights and dignity of all Americans. Libertarians stand for all freedoms, for all people, all of the time.

Even if they are a tiny minority. Even if they are hated by social conservatives. Even if the president thinks it’s good political strategy to deny them the opportunity to serve their country in the military.

If you want to come home to a political party that will welcome and respect you, our door is open.

Yours in liberty,

Nicholas Sarwark
Chair, Libertarian National Committee

That invitation to transgender people, and all other government-persecuted minorities, needless to say, still stands.

Libertarians understand that the most vulnerable minority is an individual person. That’s why voters can always count on the more than 800 Libertarians running for local, state, and federal office this year to defend individuals and their rights from government persecution.