The proposal, first reported by The New York Times, is just one of many ways that the administration has sought to roll back Obama-era protections for transgender people, including in schools, at work and in the military.
The department's proposed definition of gender would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with, according to a draft reviewed by The Times.
"The sex listed on a person's birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person's sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence", the memo reportedly reads.
HHS will likely also encourage other federal agencies to follow suit in their severely restrictive and narrow definition of sex. That should be entertaining.
A memo circulated by the Department of Health and Human... "Here, written out plain, is their attempt to erase our very existence as transgender people", the law center tweeted.
Since he took office, transgender people have struggled to maintain their right to use whichever bathroom best suits their identified gender.
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But officials at the department confirmed that their push to limit the definition of sex for the objective of federal civil rights laws resulted from their own reading of the laws and from a court decision.
The administration of US President Donald Trump is considering a proposal to narrowly define gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by birth genitalia, The New York Times reported on Sunday.
A leading transgender advocate called the government's reported action a "super aggressive, dismissive, unsafe move".
"A federal court has blocked HHS's rule on gender identity and termination of pregnancy as contrary to law and infringing the rights of healthcare providers across the country", Severino's statement said. The proposal could formally be presented to the Justice Department by the end of the year, sources told the Times.
In response, Danica Roem, the first openly transgender member of the Virginia House of Delegates, tweeted a link to the Times report and wrote: "Singling out and stigmatizing your transgender constituents isn't just the antithesis of constituent service; it's unsafe and gets us killed".
Ruling on a challenge to one aspect of the Affordable Care Act, US District Judge Reed O'Connor in Texas found in 2016 that there was no protection against discrimination on the basis of gender identity.