Betsy DeVos, the Department of Education Secretary in President Donald Trump’s cabinet, has continued to deregulate education on various issues, such as pushing for the protection of due process during Title IX investigations. Now, the most recent push from the Trump Department of Education is to avoid stepping into the gender debate in Title IX.
Allegedly, the Department of Health and Human Services, headed by Alex Azar, a former Bush administration official and a former pharmaceutical executive, will define gender by one’s birth gender and genitalia. The Department of Education’s newest Title IX regulation on campus sexual misconduct may follow suit by not narrowly defining gender, which has riled up the university presidents at three universities: University of Wisconsin (located at Madison), Rutgers University, and Princeton University.
Rebecca Blank (Wisconsin), Robert Barchi (Rutgers), and Christopher Eisbruger (Princeton) co-wrote an open letter to DeVos to urge her and the Department of Education to not follow the Department of Health and Human Services’s lead on gender definitions, or lack of it. These university presidents said this would reverse gains made in favor of the transgender community, “Much work has been done in recent years to understand and reduce the challenges and ordeals experienced by transgender people.”
In the letter, the officials said “such a narrow and binary definition” would roll back “important protections against discrimination on the basis of gender and gender identity.” Or in other words, by not defining gender as they would prefer, it would maintain that gender is solely male or female, which offends these university officials.
The officials concluded the letter, writing, “This is no time for the country to turn its back on these valued members of our communities. “