All the while that the Trump administration has been attacking transgender rights,rescinding school-restroom guidance and trying to kick people out of the military,LGBT advocates have been nervously watching a certain State Department website.
That page—now only accessible via an internet archive—showed transgender Americans how to update the gender markers on their U.S. passports. In 2010, under Secretary Hillary Clinton, the State Department began allowing transgender people to change an “M” to an “F” or vice versa without undergoing sex-reassignment surgery, provided they had a letter from a physician stating they had undergone “appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition.”
It seemed the Trump administration, with its growing track record of anti-LGBT actions, would eventually notice that website—and indeed, late Wednesday night, the National Center for Transgender Equality noticed the URL was now dead.
In its place is a new website—entitled “Sex Designation Change”—that uses the outmoded term “sex change” rather than “gender transition,” goes out of its way to highlight the exclusion of non-binary people, and removes links to major medical associations that support transition-related health care.
What doesn’t appear to have changed is the substance of the policy: Transgender people can still change the gender markers on their passports without surgery. Which begs the question: Why mess with the website?
“While ultimately pointless, this move seems designed to frighten, confuse, and keep transgender people from exercising their full rights under the current policy—the same policy we fought for and won in 2010,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, in a press release. “Transgender people can and absolutely should continue to update and renew their passports. That is our right and that should always be our right.”
The State Department did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment on the changes to the website. However, as recently as July 1, the State Department responded to a press request from The Daily Beast using the previous language of “gender transition” rather than “sex change.””