WASHINGTON — LGBT leaders across the U.S. reacted with fury Monday to a report that the Trump administration is considering adoption of a new definition of gender that would effectively deny federal recognition and civil rights protections to transgender Americans.

“I feel very threatened, but I am absolutely resolute,” Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Rights, said at a news conference convened by more than a dozen activist leaders. “We will stand up and be resilient, and we will be here long after this administration is in the trash heap.”

The activist leaders, speaking amid posters reading “#Won’tBeErased,” later addressed a protest rally outside the White House.

On Sunday, The New York Times reported that the Department of Health and Human Services was circulating a memo proposing that gender be defined as an immutable biological condition determined by a person’s sex organs at birth.

The proposal would define sex as either male or female, and any dispute about one’s sex would have to be clarified through genetic testing, according to the Times’ account of the memo.

For LGBT–rights leaders, it’s the administration’s latest attack on transgender Americans.

They also cite an attempt to ban them from military service; a memo from Attorney General Jeff Sessions concluding that civil rights laws don’t protect transgender people from discrimination on the job; and the scrapping of Obama-era guidance encouraging school officials to let transgender students use school bathrooms that matched their gender identities.

President Trump briefly addressed the latest controversy as he left the White House for a political trip to Houston, but left unclear how his administration plans to proceed.

“We have a lot of different concepts right now,” Trump said. “They have a lot of different things happening with respect to transgender right now – you know that as well as I do – and we’re looking at it very seriously.”

Trump added: “I’m protecting everybody.”

The Cabinet agency had acknowledged months ago that it was working to rewrite a federal rule that bars discrimination in health care based on “gender identity.”

It cited a Texas–based federal judge’s opinion that the original rule went too far in concluding that discrimination based on gender identity is a form of sex discrimination, which is forbidden by civil rights laws.


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