October 23, 2018

Leaked HHS Memo

On Sunday, the New York Times reported that “the Department of Health and Human Services is spearheading an effort to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs... by defining [sex] as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth."

New York Times

See past issues

From the Left

The left is concerned that this change will harm transgender individuals by reversing progress made during the Obama administration.

“Researchers say gender identity comes from the brain, not the body. Some put it more bluntly: It originates between your ears, not between your legs. But the forces that [act] on the brain to shape that identity are not [yet] understood...No one knows for sure why body and mind sometimes do not match. But being transgender is not a matter of choice... For transgender people, it is generally an overwhelming sense that their gender is not the one on their birth certificate."

New York Times

The exclusion of LGBTQ people is a big hole in civil rights laws...

"It’s not explicitly illegal for someone to be fired from a job, evicted from a home, or kicked out of a business just because an employer, landlord, or business owner doesn’t approve of the person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. But civil rights advocates have long argued that federal law should already shield LGBTQ people from discrimination because, they say, bans on discrimination on the basis of sex should also bar discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”


According to the former director of the Office for Civil Rights at HHS, "Not only does [the memo] say that gender identity is not covered by current civil rights laws, but that the definition of gender is based on your sex assigned on birth and what your genitals are at birth... If you want to claim otherwise, you are under obligation to present reliable genetic evidence to the contrary. That’s a phenomenal invasion of privacy."


“This is a proposal by the government imposing an expectation that everyone look and act in one of two ways, and that everything in between is somehow not right—an aberration, an anomaly, a flaw, a problem, a disease—rather than a marvel of the natural world, a way that humans survive and thrive not despite but because of our complexity as a species."

The Atlantic

Some note that “the path from memo to concrete policy is long and winding... In some cases, the memos likely become public because an insider (or insiders) want to encourage the public to advocate against the recommendation. In other cases, the leak could be a trial balloon from the administration, a way to check the reaction before implementing a policy change. Leaked memos are, in essence, a projection of what could happen if no one bothers to stop it... There is often still room for the courts and advocates to stop them.”


Regarding the Cadillac tax, “high-premium employer-based plans raise the cost of health care for everyone by encouraging the overconsumption of expensive services. This means that even Medicare and Medicaid face higher prices. Quite aside from its benefits for the health-care market, the Cadillac tax would also have the effect of expanding the tax base and making the tax code more efficient. It would raise revenues by about $15 billion a year… Rather than killing or delaying the Cadillac tax, Democrats should be trying to make it operational. The tax would raise revenue, lower costs, increase the efficiency of the tax code and give the Obamacare individual market its best chance at success.”
Karl W. Smith, Bloomberg

“The two issues with which he is most often associated, support for a balanced budget and opposition to free trade, put him at odds with both of our major political parties. An old-fashioned, soft-spoken Southerner, he nevertheless held views on so-called ‘social issues’ that would be to the left of the mainstream of the Republican Party, both then and now. He was a fervent supporter of the Vietnam POW/MIA movement in the late '80s and early '90s, but he was not in any sense a hawk. Never mind 2003. Perot opposed the first war in Iraq in 1990… Perot's death should be mourned by all Americans who regret the fact that it is no longer possible to make reasoned, non-ideological arguments about questions of public import, and by the devolution of our political life into mindless partisan squabbling.”
Matthew Walther, The Week

From the Right

The right believes the move is necessary and aligned with common sense.

From the Right

The right believes the move is necessary and aligned with common sense.

“This policy would not prevent any person from identifying as any gender they please; despite the outrage-filled headline put forth by the New York Times, this policy would not write transgenderism out of existence. This potential law would cement protections for biological sex under the law; gender identity would not be protected under the law, as it never has been."


“If approved, the new proposed Title IX rules wouldn’t mandate discrimination, but would only establish in law that schools receiving federal funds have no Title IX obligation to [accomodate gender identity]. For example, there will be no federal mandate to open female locker rooms and bathrooms to boys who identify as girls."

The American Conservative

“[This] will allow the government to have an objective standard when implementing federal programs. Without such a standard, a haphazard set of rules exists as to who qualifies for legal protections under Title IX... College athletics, where men who identify as women have unfair advantages, is one example; another is set-aside or quota programs... It makes no sense at all that a 40- or 50-year-old man, who has enjoyed the benefits of his sex for his entire career, can decide he is a woman and receive the benefit of the set-aside."

The Federalist

This is simply returning to “the definition of sex that’s been in use for all of recorded history... Can you name another instance – just one, single instance – where provable, established science has been overruled by both the government and even politically charged members of the scientific community based on nothing beyond what a person tells you they sincerely believe?"

Hot Air

“It’s the basic definition of sex as understood by the men and women who drafted and passed Title IX. In our constitutional republic, if one wishes to amend this definition, then the proper path is through legislation, not the Obama administration’s bureaucratic memo... [especially because] Democratic members of Congress had tried — and failed — to amend federal nondiscrimination statutes many times...  

“To hold to the belief that men cannot get pregnant and women do not have penises is not to deny any person’s humanity. It’s to reject anargument about identity... [This is] not denying anyone’s existence. It’s standing athwart a lawless redefinition of biological reality and quite appropriately yelling stop.”

National Review

“If Joe Biden can win his way through the primaries, he’s almost lab-engineered to beat Trump. He doesn’t cause Republican panic, he has the potential to connect with white working-class voters in a way that Hillary couldn’t in 2016, and he has a potential to connect better with black voters than Hillary did… if Biden emerges from [this] crucible, Trump will face a very different challenge than he faced in 2016.”
David French, National Review

“NBC and MSNBC embraced Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in the first debate of Democratic presidential candidates Wednesday night, treating her like the star of the show. The debate led off with Warren, who had a huge popularity advantage from the start… NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie started it off sounding more like Warren’s press secretary. ‘You have many plans – free college, free child care, government health care, cancelation of student debt, new taxes, new regulations, the breakup of major corporations,’ Guthrie said, before teeing up an economy question. Guthrie even used Warren’s plan to break up tech companies as the foundation for a question for Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey… the round-robin final comments also ended with Warren, as Maddow asked her for the ‘final, final statement.’ That let NBC bookend the entire debate with Warren and Warren.”
Dan Gainor, Fox News

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“The fans who avidly followed the men’s tournament certainly weren’t doing anything wrong. And it’s hard to argue that each of them had a moral obligation to be exactly as interested in women’s soccer. Even if we could stop them from watching the men more than the women, should we?…

“It’s tempting to answer that the fan choices aren’t innocent, they’re sexist. But since we can’t peek into their hearts, to say that definitively, we’d have to assume that men’s greater speed, strength and endurance definitely make nodifference to the sport’s quality. Fair enough, but then why do fans prefer to watch Megan Rapinoe play instead of the sedentary elderly who could presumably use some exercise? Alternatively, maybe pay should be equalized precisely because biology is unfair. But that seems to be an argument for curbing the pay of all top-level athletes, who have to hit the genetic lottery just to get on the field. It might be easier to focus on the distributions across society at large, rather than every individual industry, especially when fundamental biology is in play.”
Megan McArdle, Washington Post

On the bright side...

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