Trans advocacy groups protested outside the White House on Monday afternoon in response to the Trump administration's reported plan to exclude transgender and nonbinary people from its legal definition of gender.
Demonstrators organized by the National Center for Transgender Equality and Human Rights Campaign gathered in front of the president's house with signs reading "Trans equality now" and "Trans people won't be erased." Many held up the transgender pride flag.
LGBTQ-rights advocates took turns giving speeches denouncing the Trump administration and asserting the validity of trans identity.
"I'm here to share with all of you that my existence and the existence of the people in our communities, trans people, is not defined by DNA," longtime D.C. trans advocate Ruby Corado told the crowd. "It is not defined by chromosomes. Trans people exist because self-power, self-acceptance, self-embracement, self-love."
"Before I came out into the world and demanded basic human rights, I accepted myself and I gave me permission to exist," she added. "No one can take away my dignity. No one can take away my identity."
The protest was planned in response to the Sunday New York Times report that found the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is planning to propose a legal definition of gender as determined "on a biological basis." They will ask multiple agencies to adopt this legal definition.
This could mean the millions of people who identify as transgender, or with a gender other than the one they are assigned at birth, would not be recognized as a legitimate group by the government. It would leave them vulnerable to being excluded from civil rights protections in education, the military and health care.
HHS in a statement to The Hill said they do not comment on leaked documents, but confirmed they are still abiding by the broader definition of gender established under the Obama administration.
The White House did not respond to The Hill's request for comment.
The protest took place shortly after a press conference hosted at the Human Rights Campaign headquarters in Washington, D.C.
The Human Rights Campaign on Sunday released a statement condemning the proposal.
"The Administration’s plans are in direct conflict with a growing trend in federal court decisions affirming that sexual orientation and gender identity are covered under our nation’s civil rights laws which prohibit discrimination based on 'sex,' " the national LGBTQ advocacy organization wrote in a statement. "This is the latest effort in a consistent, multi-pronged campaign by the Trump-Pence White House over the past two years to undermine the rights and welfare of LGBTQ people."
Representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union at the protest and press conference vowed to "fight back" against the proposal.
"The ACLU will fight back...We must vote as if our rights and lives depend on it because they do....We have the opportunity to reject these hateful attacks." - Ian Thompson, Senior Legislative Representative, @ACLU #WontBeErased pic.twitter.com/kPy5YvYdhW— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) October 22, 2018
"Trump and his administration have waged war on the transgender community...Transgender right are civil rights. Transgender right are human rights." - @Shin_Inouye, Director of Communications and Rapid Response, @civilrightsorg #WontBeErased pic.twitter.com/JSACDM156P— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) October 22, 2018
Senior attorney at Lambda Legal Sasha Buchert in an interview with The Hill said Lambda Legal will mobilize against the revised definition if it goes into effect.
"[The proposal] has to go through a notice and comment period," Buchert said. "Assuming [the definition will be proposed] probably ... tomorrow or soon, and they’ll have a comment period," she said. "I’m sure all of our organizations will be submitting comments explaining how out of step they are with law and medicine."
"We’ll be considering all options as this moves forward," she added.