Transgender Americans #WontBeErased, Activists Pledge After Leaked Memo

Trump's administration seeks to narrow down the definition of gender to only encompass male or female.

As the Trump administration moves to redefine gender in a way that would profoundly impact the rights of transgender people, the LGBTQ community is fighting back. According to a report from The New York Times, the Department of Health and Human Services is weighing narrowing the governmental definition of gender to strictly male or female as determined by genitalia at birth — a proposal that has already prompted widespread backlash on social media.

As outlined in a memo obtained by the Times, the Department of Health and Human Services is pushing to legally define sex as an immutable biological state under Title IX, the act which prevents gender-based discrimination in education and federally funded programs. The document proposes that government agencies should define gender "on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable."

Narrowing the definition would classify gender as unchangeably male or female, as based on the genitalia recorded at birth. The proposal would also require any citizen disputing their sex to undergo genetic testing.


"Sex means a person's status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth," the memo read, according to 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 proposed definition, which Trump officials reportedly hope to present to the Justice Department by the end of the year, would nullify key protective measures for transgender people passed during Obama's administration. It would also essentially eradicate the opportunity for members of an already vulnerable population to gain federal recognition.

The move is sparking outrage from both members and supporters of the LGBTQ community, who launched a fierce social media campaign on Sunday to state that transgender people cannot simply be expunged from society. Using the hashtag #WontBeErased, hundreds of activists spoke out for the rights of those who identify as transgender or non-binary.

In addition to the social media campaign, rallies have also been planned across several cities. Several hundred participants turned out to endorse transgender rights in New York City's Washington Square Park on Sunday. A second protest is scheduled to take place outside the White House on Monday, and the ACLU compiled a list of 7 further actions activists and allies could take to show their support for the transgender community.

"You saw such a massive response because this attack on the trans community is essentially trying to erase the trans community from the face of this country," Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and chief executive of Glaad, told the New York Times. "And we're not going to stand for that."

Cover image via Justin Starr Photography /


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