By Bill Parry
More than 300 transgender New Yorkers joined elected officials on the steps of City Hall last week to speak out against what they call the Trump administration’s discriminatory attempt to exclude transgender and gender nonconforming people from its legal definition of gender.
The proposal from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services would define gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth, and would be the most drastic move yet in a large-scale government push to reverse recognition and rights of transgender individuals under civil rights law.
“We will not remain silent and allow the Trump administration to erase transgender and gender non-conforming people from existence,” City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said. “An attack on trans rights is an attack on all of our civil rights. I will not rest until all members of our LGBTQ community are afforded the dignity, respect and legal protections they deserve.”
City Comptroller Scott Stringer called the Trump administration’s latest proposal a vicious and inhumane political attack that would have severe consequences for transgender and non-binary people.
“Let’s call this what it is: a thinly veiled attempt to erase this community while trampling their civil rights,” Stringer said. “Trans rights are human rights — it’s just that simple. Every person, no matter their gender identity, sex, or sexual orientation deserves the right to freedom and equality.”
Carmelyn Malalis, the chair and commissioner of the NYC Commission on Human Rights, offered some calming words to the crowd.
“As Washington embarks on a mission to erase people’s identity, New York City has and will continue to move in the opposite direction,” she said. “In New York City, transgender and non-binary individuals are protected against discrimination harassment by one of the strongest anti-discrimination laws in the nation, the NYC Human Rights Law, which expressly protects people against discrimination based on gender identity and expression, and the NYC Commission on Human Rights will continue to vigorously enforce the law so transgender and non-binary individuals get the respect, dignity, and visibility they deserve.”
Members of the Jackson Heights-based immigrant rights group Make the Road New York took part in the Oct. 24 rally and on Tuesday it denounced the Trump administration’s plan to end birthright citizenship, a core component of the 14th Amendment, through an executive order.
Trump told Axios (in a recording for their new HBO television series) that the move would target “anchor babies” and “chain migration” pleasing his base that have argued the 14th Amendment was only intended to provide citizenship to children born in the U.S. to lawful permanent residents, not to unauthorized immigrants or those on temporary visas.
A constitutional amendment, however, cannot be nullified through an executive order, as per Article V of the Constitution, which outlines the amendment process.
“This is yet another example of Trump’s eagerness to flout the Constitution in his never-ending crusade to attack immigrants and people of color,” MTRNY Executive Director Javier Valdes said. “Our community will fight any such unconstitutional order in the courts and the streets, and we will win. We’re speaking to our Latino voters every day who are eager to evict Republican ideologues from the House and insist on Democratic leadership that steps up to protect our communities.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr