Rights groups and activists are mobilizing against a reported Trump administration plan to narrowly define gender, a move that could dramatically reduce federal protections for and recognition of transgender people.
LGBTQ supporters gathered Sunday night in New York’s Washington Square Park, while others took to social media to blast what is seen as an attempt to marginalize transgender people.
According to a memo obtained by the New York Times, the Department of Health and Human Services is leading an effort to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal law that prohibits gender-based discrimination. The department reportedly favors a uniform definition of sex as a fixed matter, determined as either male or female by genitalia at birth.
“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 says, according to the Times.
The White House’s new definition, if implemented, would mark a significant rollback of Obama-era policies that largely allowed people to choose how they identify rather than be determined by the sex assigned at birth. There are at least 1.4 million Americans who currently identify as transgender.
Civil rights groups across the board have pledged to fight back. The Transgender Law Center blasted the administration’s reported plan as an attempt “to erase our very existence as transgender people.” On social media, #WontBeErased is trending, and activists are planning a rally at the White House Monday.
We’ve always known this administration intends nothing short of the destruction of our communities. Here, written out plain, is their attempt to erase our very existence as transgender people. We #WontBeErased, we will fight back. https://t.co/R9F4UVW7Bk— TransgenderLawCenter (@TransLawCenter) October 21, 2018
Make no mistake, trans people are under direct attack from the Trump Administration - but we #WontBeErased. We're here. You can't define us out of existence. Join us for a rally at the White House tomorrow: https://t.co/7I0r4XHt9M— National Center for Transgender Equality (@TransEquality) October 21, 2018
Actors and celebrities have also added to the chorus of outrage. Laverne Cox, a trans actress and activist compared the proposed policy to “another example of brutal colonialism.”
“Trans people have been under attack by this administration from day 1 and in state legislatures for years now,” the “Orange Is The New Black” actress tweeted. “Let’s join together America and assert #TransRightsAreHumanRights.”
The Human Rights Campaign, a prominent LGBTQ rights group, called on the Trump administration to reverse its course.
“Defining ‘sex’ in this narrow language tailored to the talking points of anti-equality extremists is part of a deliberate strategy to eliminate federal protections for LGBTQ people,” the group’s president, Chad Griffin, said in a statement.
The draft memo follows several previous attempts by the Trump administration to revoke LGBTQ rights, including a plan to bar transgender people from serving in the military “in any capacity”—a move that was blocked by the courts last year.