Trump administration rolls back Obama-era rule that redefined 'sex' to include 'gender identity'

Federal law will now define sex as it is 'determined by biology.'

Updated: June 15, 2020 - 9:24am

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The Trump administration on Friday announced revised federal policy regarding sex discrimination, rolling back an Obama-era rule that had redefined "sex" under federal antidiscrimination statute to include a broad, subjective interpretation of "gender identity."

The earlier rule change was a concession to LGBT activists, who in recent years have sought to have significantly broadened interpretations of sex enshrined into local, state and federal law.

The rule expanded sex to include "an individual’s internal sense of gender, which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female." Entities that fall under federal Title IX statute were forbidden from discriminating against anyone on the basis of that revised definition.

A press release from the Department of Health and Human Services on Friday announced that the government was formally rolling back that re-definition, returning to a strictly objective definition of the word "sex" as determined by biological indicators.

"HHS will enforce [the rule] by returning to the government’s interpretation of sex discrimination according to the plain meaning of the word 'sex' as male or female and as determined by biology," the press release stated. 

In an entry for the federal register, the Trump administration argued that the previous rule "risked masking clinically relevant, and sometimes vitally important, information by requiring providers and insurers to switch from a scientifically valid and biologically based system of tracking sex to one based on subjective self-identification according to gender identity."

The department noted that the transgender rule had actually been enjoined by a federal court at the end of 2016; the same federal court finally voided the rule entirely in October of 2019. HHS was "finalizing" the rule in its Friday announcement, the department said. 

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