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Watch live as activists protest at White House over Trump’s erasure of trans civil rights

Activists protested the Trump administration's proposed attempt to erase transgender people from civil rights law by radically redefining the word "gender."
Activists protested the Trump administration's proposed attempt to erase transgender people from civil rights law by radically redefining the word "gender." Photo: Instagram/HunterAbrams

A leaked Department of Health and Human Services memo that describes an effort to redefine sex in federal law as “a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth” spawned a protest in New York City last night.

Now protesters will take their outrage to the steps of the White House.

Sex would be defined by a person’s birth certificate, with any disputes settled with DNA testing. The purpose of the redefinition is to deny transgender people protection under federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.

“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,”said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. “This is a direct attack on the fundamental equality of LGBTQ people.”

Related: Department of Education: Title IX prohibits discrimination against transgender students

A coalition of LGBTQ and civil rights organizations are holding a press conference currently at the Human Rights Campaign headquarters. After the speeches are finished, organizers will lead a march to the front of the White House to rally against the administration’s impending attack on the LGBTQ community. The rally will begin at 12:30pm Eastern time.

“Transgender people have fought rules like this one in federal and state court and won. We have stood toe-to-toe with administrators, legislatures, and executives who would agree with this rule and yet we won,” Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said.

“If this administration is hoping to demoralize us, they will be disappointed. If they are hoping we will give up, they should reconsider the power of our persistence and our fury.”

The administration’s decision could have severe consequences for LGBTQ people across the federal government. For example:

  • Same-sex couples and their families could be turned away from emergency shelters
  • A transgender person could have their insurance deny them coverage for transition related care
  • A gay man could be harassed about being gay at a job skills training
  • An elderly same-sex couple could be denied in home meal service
  • A transgender woman could be turned away from a hospital for a broken ankle

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