Libertarians Should More Actively Defend Trans People

Charlie Gers

 According to “The Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey” conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality, 40 percent of transgender adults reported having made a suicide attempt. The report provides information not just on the striking number of suicide attempts made by transgender individuals, but also the discrimination, physical abuse, economic instability, and other physical/mental health issues transgender individuals face. As libertarians, we cherish the premise that all individuals should be free to live their own life as they see fit without intervening with the rights of others, the core value of individual liberty. Gender identity is indisputably an inalienable component of individual freedom, so it is our duty to react and voice our opposition to a current administration that seeks to revoke these rights.

Libertarianism stems from the belief that individuals know themselves better than anyone else, that they have the full autonomy to control their own body and minds. Throughout history, we have seen numerous laws that have deprived individuals from their liberties due to race, gender, and sexual orientation; for example, Jim Crow laws in the 1960s not only humiliated and dehumanized African-Americans, but they were antithetical to our nation’s creed that all men are created equal under the law. When unjust laws that target the rights and liberties of a certain group arise, libertarians should not just passively but actively be against it.

Recent attacks by President Trump’s administration to the transgender community shouldn’t just concern members of that community, but rather anyone that upholds individual liberty as the greatest gift we have. Last month, the Trump administration announced that it is working to roll-back a federal policy implemented by President Obama that interpreted “sex” as a gender self-ID. President Trump is seeking to revert the definition of “sex” to mean “immutable biological traits identifiable by or before death”, which jeopardizes the gender recognition of trans people under federal law. On October 22nd, Britain’s government finished a four-month consultation about transgender rights. As stated in The Economist, “Under existing law, the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) of 2004, people may present themselves as they like, but they can change the sex on their birth certificate only after a psychological evaluation and two years in their preferred sex role. A proposed reform would let people change their legal sex without seeking permission from the state.” Other countries, like Canada, have added gender identity and gender expression to the characteristics protected by federal human rights law. Needless to say, the search for a solution to the complex question of how to decide someone’s legal gender is tedious. Religious and cultural issues between both sides, the progressive left and social conservatives, prevail over the discussion if trans people are deviant. Regardless of politics or religion, the state has no role in hampering with the inalienable rights of an individual to define their gender.

Libertarianism isn’t a country club philosophy that advocates for selfishness. It doesn’t take rocket science to understand that if you want people to care about you or your ideas, you have to care about them or tell them how your ideas benefit them. As Dale Carnegie discussed in his remarkable book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, you have to talk in terms of the other person’s interests. Libertarianism is a belief that should adhere to all individuals, it is the belief that nothing in this world is more important than an individual. Whether it’s racism, homophobia, xenophobia, or transphobia, it is our duty to combat these attacks on groups of individuals because of prejudice and bigotry. This is a call to all libertarians to fight for the future we infatuate, a future for a freer, kinder, and peaceful America.