Local activists pledge fight if feds define Title IX to exclude transgender people

SEATTLE - Local and state activists are concerned over the latest news the feds could roll back protections for transgender youths by redefining Title IX.

Over the weekend, the New York Times published a leaked memo from the Department of Health and Humans Services indicating the feds may be trying to define sex under Title IX as either male or female.

It’s a big ripple effect locally, considering the Seattle area has the 5th largest transgender population in the nation according to the Gender Justice League.

“I just never felt like a boy,” Sophia Lee of Gender Justice League said.

Sophia Lee says she became transgender 3 years ago.

“When my nephew was born I decided to myself that I didn’t want to wait any longer,” Lee said.

Since then, Lee has been fighting for transgender rights with the Gender Justice League in Seattle.

“There has been a lot of wins during the Obama administration and a lot of losses in the Trump administration,” Lee said.

Local activists are worried about the message the latest news sends, especially to young transgender people who are already struggling.

“There is a lot about the memo that we have to unpack to find any meaning behind it, but what we can find is a lot of the intention,” Lee said.

And that perceived intention has already created a new social media movement called #Wewontbeerased. Title IX was enacted in 1972 under Nixon. It’s a civil rights law dealing with educational programs that receives federal assistance.

Lee says if Title IX is defined to apply to only male or females according to genitalia, she says the feds can expect another legal fight.

Various state agencies including Washington’s Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler also saying the state will fight any changes.

“Yesterday it was the military didn’t succeed at that, now it’s Title IX, tomorrow he will go after health care and believe me it is not acceptable in the State of Washington and we are going to fight it everywhere we possibly can,” Kreidler said.

Kreidler, who is a Democrat, says this isn’t a blue or red issue but a human rights one. He says his office has gone after companies who denied health care for transgender people before.

Lee says even if the federal government were to change the law she says the state does have additional rights to protect transgender people. Her message is still one of more hope than fear.

“At the very least in Washington state, transgender people should be relatively safe compared to other places,” Lee said.

The Gender Justice League says the Seattle area has the fifth largest transgender population in the nation. The group currently has more than 6,000 members.