The Trump administration’s proposed scheme to redefine sex as “a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth” is not just a calculated swipe at trans people. It’s also part of a broader set of efforts to undermine the contributions of feminism and to increase the marginalizing and criminalizing powers of state institutions.
The proposed redefinition, which was revealed this week after The New York Times reported on a leaked memo from the Department of Health and Human Services, could have far-reaching implications—particularly in the realm of health.
This latest gesture of clumsy cruelty would distribute harm in an intensely disproportionate manner, targeting people caught up in state systems of health, housing, policing, imprisonment, detention, immigration and so on. These shifts would only intensify the already swelling tides of criminalization, harm and violence directed primarily (though not exclusively) toward people of color and poor people.
State violence and vigilante violence are closely connected and mutually reinforcing in this moment: Emboldened by state-sanctioned transphobia, leaders of far-right groups such as the Proud Boys’ Gavin McInnis and others have made explicit...