A rally outside the White House is being organized for Monday morning, and protesters gathered Sunday evening in New York’s Washington Square Park.
The administration is reportedly planning to restrict the definition of gender as immutable for an individual’s lifetime and that would be based on genitalia at birth, according to a draft memo obtained by The New York Times. Such a definition would essentially be a government declaration that there is no such thing as “transgender.” At least 1.4 million people in the U.S. currently identify as transgender, according to the Times.
The reported change is being spearheaded by the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs receiving government funding.
Author Celeste Ng slammed the radical proposal, as “cruel.”
Lambda Legal, which battles for LGBTQ rights, vowed never to give up the battle for transgender rights. “We will not stop fighting for your rights and you #WontBeErased by this heartless administration. #TransRightsAreHumanRights,” the organization tweeted Sunday.
The National Center for Transgender Equality, which is one of the organizations planning the Washington rally, warned on Twitter: “Make no mistake, trans people are under direct attack from the Trump Administration.”
It also issued a statement calling the proposal “an attempt to put heartless restraints on the lives of 2 million people, effectively abandoning our right to equal access to health care, to housing, to education, or to fair treatment under the law ... and to solidify an archaic, dogmatic ... view of the world.”
Cher’s son Chaz Bono tweeted that the Trump administration is trying to “redefine me out of existence.”
American Civil Liberties Union attorney Chase Strangio tweeted Sunday: “I know folks are scared and hurt. So am I. We are working to stop this and we will never give up.”
The draft memo obtained by the Times and circulated by HHS since spring erases the difference between sex and gender identity, saying that “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.”
Catherine Lhamon, who helped write current transgender policy while leading the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights in the Obama administration, told the Times that the new plan “takes a position that what the medical community understands about their patients — what people understand about themselves — is irrelevant because the government disagrees.”
The Trump administration has already sought to bar transgender people from serving in the military and has challenged other civil rights protections.