Story and Photos by Alejandro Alvarez
Video by Ford Fischer
WASHINGTON — If Monday’s headlines were any indication, transgender Americans are grappling with a crisis of existential proportations: Erasure.
For the National Center for Transgender Equality and likeminded transgender rights activists, the details of a draft memo revealed in a New York Times article on Sunday night are a worst-case scenario. The Times reported it had unconverted an effort within the Department of Health and Human Services to form a strict, government-wide definition of gender as defined during birth by the genitalia of the newborn.
If that effort came to fruition, it would strip federal protections from about 1.4 million Americans who identify as a gender other than the one they were born into — effectively, as activists are fearing, erasing recognization of transgenderism from federal policy. It would be an upheaval of civil rights from a president whose allies once christined him as the most pro-LGBT presidential candidate ever nominated.
Monday by far wasn’t the first time in recent memory that transgender activists amassed, chanted and sang against the Trump administration. But it might have been the most urgent.
“This administration has become lawless, they are pretending that the laws that protect us don’t exist, they’re pretending that they can redefine sex and gender to not include us,” said Mara Keisling. Keisling pointed out a Penske moving van evidently parked near the White House north portico, and jokinging said that voting Trump out of office “wouldn’t be that easy.” She called on the roughly one hundred protesters gathered to vote in the upcoming midterm elections.
”A lot conservatives claim to be the party of ‘live and let live,’ people who support this, it doesn’t work,” said another activist, hoisting the striped pink-magenta flag of the LGBT rights movement. “You can’t be for ‘live and let live’ and then be for this policy that writes us out of existence,” they said, adding that the GOP should stop leveraging gay and transgender rights as an issue “only when it conveniences them.”
The Trump administration, for its part, is pushing against the Times revelation, calling it “misleading.” The memo seemed to give no timeframe for the policy change to take effect, though it would follow only a year after President Trump attempting to reinstate a U.S. military ban on transgender service members — a move which itself sparked a similar outcry and days of protests in multiple cities, including D.C.
”Even if he is the first pro-LGBT Republican, he’s doing a pretty shitty job at it,” said a masked protester, who then addressed Trump and the Republican Party directly: “You’re all behind, and that’s why your party is dying.”