A New York Times report on Sunday says the Trump administration is planning to roll back civil rights protections for LGBTQ people - which were strengthened during the Obama administration - by narrowing the definition of 'sex.'
A leaked draft memo from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) intends to erase transgender rights and recognition by “considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth.”
According to the Times, the leaked memo proposes 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.”
The Times says that for over a year, the Department of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been arguing that Obama wrongly extended civil rights protections to people who shouldn’t have them due to an unclear interpretation of the meaning of gender. The Trump administration does not believe protections should have been extended for homosexuality or gender identity.
The Human Rights Campaign says there are a number of ways this narrowed definition of gender will impact LGBTQ people, including:
“Setting a destructive precedent, the Trump-Pence administration intends to erase LGBTQ people from federal civil rights protections and eviscerate enforcement of non-discrimination laws,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin.
“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.”
“This is a direct attack on the fundamental equality of LGBTQ people and, if this administration refuses to reverse course, Congress must immediately take action by advancing the Equality Act to ensure that LGBTQ people are explicitly protected by our nation’s civil rights laws.”
Since the Times article appeared, the National Centre For Transgender Equality has organised a #WontBeErased campaign on social media and planned demonstrations outside the Whitehouse.
Trans performers and public figures took to social media vowing to fight for their rights, with trans actress Alexandra Billings posting a powerful statement on her Facebook account, which says in part:
“I will not be erased. I will not be eradicated. And I am not a political pawn.”
“I lived through the plague in the 80s and buried my friends in a cloak of death and silence. I was diagnosed with AIDS a few years later and have Hep B and C and nearly died when I was in hospital with a temperature of 104.”
“I have navigated my way through sex work, heroin, homelessness and male violence and privilege. And I’ll be damned if one small minded man who’s pretending to be president is going to attempt to annihilate everything I have been through, stood for and survived simply because he cannot face the facts of his insufferable and tragic presidency.”
“Here I stand.”
“And here I shall remain.”