A report that the Trump administration is considering a move to rigidly define gender as unchanging and biologically determined at birth was met with outrage and indignation, as social media users vowed that transgender Americans #WontBeErased.
The New York Times reported Sunday that transgender identity could be "defined out of existence" if the federal government implements a change outlined in a Department of Health and Human Services memo that was obtained by the paper.
"Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth," the memo said, 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 gender definition proposed in the reported memo would essentially lift anti-discrimination protections for transgender individuals in programs that receive federal funds.
"We do not comment on alleged, leaked documents that purport to indicate the status of deliberations or the focus of the department," HHS spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley said in a statement on Monday in response to what she called the "misleading " Times story.
"The Obama administration’s broad definition of 'sex' was enjoined by a federal court on a nationwide basis in December 2016, and the Obama administration did not appeal. That court found that the Obama administration regulation was overbroad and inconsistent with the text of the 1972 Title IX law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex. The court order remains in full force and effect today and HHS is bound by it as we continue to review the issue," Oakley said.
"Everyone deserves to be treated with respect, and HHS’ Office for Civil Rights will continue to vigorously enforce all laws as written and passed by Congress, prohibiting discrimination in health care on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age and disability," she added.
LGBTQ rights organizations, politicians and celebrities joined members of the transgender community and other concerned social media users to denounce the proposed gender definition.
"The cruelty and bigotry of this administration truly has no limit," Sen. Bernie Sanders, Vt.-I, said in a tweet. "We should be doing everything we can to protect our transgender brothers and sisters."
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said the administration was proposing "another terrible, discriminatory policy."
"I want all transgender Americans to know that we will not let anyone erase you. We see you, and we will fight this," the senator tweeted.
California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is running for governor, called the move "just plain wrong."
"We cannot stand for it," he said.
Advocate and former first daughter Chelsea Clinton said it would be "outrageous and wrong to lessen protections and attempt to deny equal humanity."
Transgender advocate and whistleblower Chelsea Manning said that laws "don't determine our existence."
"We determine our existence," she said.
"Trans people are human," tweeted actress Alyssa Milano. "And they vote. #WontBeErased."
"We must not give up the fight," "Orange is the New Black" star Laverne Cox said. "But in the face of this affront on my existence and the existence of my community I choose love not fear. We exist and always have."
"I can’t begin to express the rage I feel toward an administration that is trying to redefine me out of existence," transgender celebrity Chaz Bono tweeted. "Just another gift for his small minded base, terrified of the diversity that has always made America exceptional! #Vote"
The National Center for Transgender Equality called on people to share selfies along with the #WontBeErased hashtag. The group also called for a rally to be held outside the White House in Washington at 12:30 p.m. EDT Monday.