Activists, allies, and members of the LGBTQ community mobilized a fast and fierce campaign on Sunday in response to an unreleased Trump administration memo that proposes “narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth.” An enormous presence gathered in New York City’s Washington Square Park to reaffirm that transgender and gender non-conforming people cannot and will not be expunged from society. Continued protests are being held in Washington D.C.
The memo from the United States Department of Health and Human Services aims to codify “transgender” out of existence by defining “sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with.” This measure is the administration’s latest effort to roll back the recognition and protection of transgender and nonbinary people under civil rights laws. Earlier this year, the Trump administration sought to bar transgender people from serving in the military and in May of 2017, challenged their civil rights protections embedded in the Affordable Care Act.
The Department’s proposed memo states, “Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before 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 new definition would essentially eradicate federal recognition (and, thus, protection) of the estimated 1.4 million Americans who recognize themselves as a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth.
“The Administration’s memo threatening the lives of transgender people and endorsing bigotry and hatred against trans individuals will not be tolerated,” said Allegra L. Fishel, Executive Director of the Gender Equality Law Center. “We flatly reject the proposals in this memo as undemocratic and cruel. We will continue to fight to protect our trans and nonbinary clients and their right to equal treatment, dignity, and respect.”
Let’s be abundantly clear, being transgender is not something you can believe in or not believe in, support or not support. Trans people exist and will continue to exist. What this policy will do is make it infinitely more difficult to be trans in America. That is, increased violence, poverty, and inaccessible education, healthcare, and workplaces. New generations of trans kids will be silenced, bullied, and pushed further into the shadows.
Our work for equality and justice throughout New York persists and we're only increasing that work. Our resolve is stronger than ever. With your help me we can continue to fight for the civil rights and protections for transgender and nonbinary folks in their employment and education. Please take a moment to renew your support today and ensure our efforts continue. We are a community of activists and every dollar helps advance this critical work.
AND TO OUR TRANS AND NONBINARY FRIENDS: we see you, we hear you, and we will show up for you. You will not be erased.
If you’re trans or nonbinary and need support today, call the Trans Lifeline at 1-877-565-8860. If you believe you have been discriminated against by your employer or educational institution because of your gender, gender identity or expression, call our free intake hotline at: 1-888-833-4363 or firstname.lastname@example.org for legal assistance.