L.G.B.T. activists mobilized a fast and fierce campaign that included a protest outside the White House on Monday to say transgender people cannot be expunged from society, in response to an unreleased Trump administration memo that proposes a strict definition of gender based on a person’s genitalia at birth.
The existence of the draft memo, the administration’s latest effort to roll back the recognition and protection of transgender people under federal civil rights law, was reported by The New York Times on Sunday morning.
Within hours, the hashtag #WontBeErased circulated on social media. By Sunday evening, a rally for transgender rights took place in New York; another took place on Monday in Washington.
With the White House as their backdrop, speakers repeated the phrase “We will not be erased,” which has become a rallying cry against the proposal. The 45-minute rally, attended by what appeared to be at least several hundred people, repeatedly referred to the coming midterm elections and encouraged people to vote.
Masen Davis, the chief executive of Freedom for All Americans, a bipartisan group that works for nondiscrimination protections for L.G.B.T. people, told the crowd the memo seemed to be an attempt to “score political points in an election.”
“This is not a red or blue issue; this is a human issue,” he said, to cheers and applause.
Jay Brown, a deputy director of the Human Rights Campaign, said there were 10 million L.G.B.T.Q. voters and “millions” more who were allies.
“We have just three words for you: November is coming,” he said.
The Department of Health and Human Services is spearheading an effort to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government funding, according to the memo obtained by The Times. The new definition would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable and determined by the genitalia a person is born with. Any dispute about one’s sex would have to be clarified using genetic testing.
Roger Severino, the director of the Office for Civil Rights at the department, declined to answer detailed questions about the memo.
The new definition would essentially eradicate federal recognition of the estimated 1.4 million Americans who identify as a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth.
“You saw such a massive response because this attack on the trans community is essentially trying to erase the trans community from the face of this country, and we’re not going to stand for that,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and chief executive of Glaad, a media advocacy group for L.G.B.T. people.
Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said, “This is a really intrusive policy that doesn’t make any sense scientifically.”
Ms. Keisling said she and her staff woke up on Sunday to the news of the memo and quickly planned a response. The hashtag #WontBeErased felt appropriate to them. “What this feels like to transgender people is trying to make us invisible, trying to say that we don’t exist, trying to say that we are nothing,” she said.
The American public is divided over whether it is possible for someone’s gender to differ from the sex that that person was assigned at birth, according to a Pew Research Center survey published last year, amid debates over which public bathrooms transgender people should use.
It said the divide was evident along political lines, with eight in 10 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents saying that whether someone is a man or a woman is determined by the sex that that person was assigned at birth. About 64 percent of Democrats or those who hold their views say a person’s gender can be different from the sex the person was assigned at birth.
The debate has burst to the forefront of cultural debates in individual states over which public bathrooms transgender people can use. In North Carolina last year, Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, and transgender rights advocates hammered out a settlement that would allow transgender people to use public restrooms that match their gender identity, repealing a law that had restricted access.
On Monday, the conservative NC Values Coalition, which had opposed the North Carolina bathroom settlement as “a massive power grab,” said the Trump administration was “clarifying what it means to be a man or a woman — it’s an immutable condition determined at birth by genitalia and biology.”
Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the coalition, said such a position was “critical in this confused world to define these terms as Congress intended them when federal programs such as Title IX were passed.”
The #WontBeErased hashtag took off on social media, as people posted photos of themselves or family members to show the faces of transgender people — who, they noted, would continue to exist regardless of the government’s definition of gender.
Chelsea Manning, a transgender advocate who on Saturday tweeted a photograph of herself recovering from surgery, also responded on Twitter, saying “laws don’t determine our existence — *we* determine our existence.”
The rally outside the White House on Monday followed one on Sunday evening in which, supporters said, a few hundred people gathered at Washington Square Park in Manhattan to endorse transgender rights.
The policy that was proposed in the memo would be among the most significant efforts to reverse the Obama administration’s more fluid recognition of gender identity. The Trump administration has sought to bar transgender people from serving in the military and has legally challenged their civil rights protections embedded in the Affordable Care Act.
9-year-old genius to graduate university
(CNN) – A child prodigy from Belgium is on course to gain a bachelor’s degree at the tender age of 9.
Laurent Simons is studying electrical engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE) — a tough course even for students of an average graduate age.
Described by staff as “simply extraordinary,” Laurent is on course to finish his degree in December.
He then plans to embark on a PhD program in electrical engineering while also studying for a medicine degree, his father told CNN.
His parents, Lydia and Alexander Simons, said they thought Laurent’s grandparents were exaggerating when they said he had a gift, but his teachers soon concurred.
“They noticed something very special about Laurent,” said Lydia.
Laurent was given test after test as teachers tried to work out the extent of his talents. “They told us he is like a sponge,” said Alexander.
While Laurent comes from a family of doctors, his parents have so far not received any explanation as to why their child prodigy is capable of learning so quickly.
But Lydia has her own theory.
“I ate a lot of fish during the pregnancy,” she joked.
The TUE has allowed Laurent to complete his course faster than other students.
“That is not unusual,” said Sjoerd Hulshof, education director of the TUE bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, in a statement.
“Special students that have good reasons for doing so can arrange an adjusted schedule. In much the same way we help students who participate in top sport.”
Hulshof said Laurent is “simply extraordinary” and praised the youngster.
“Laurent is the fastest student we have ever had here,” he said. “Not only is he hyper intelligent but also a very sympathetic boy.”
Laurent told CNN his favorite subject is electrical engineering and he’s also “going to study a bit of medicine.”
His progress has not gone unnoticed and he is already being sought out by prestigious universities around the world, although Laurent’s family wouldn’t be drawn on naming which of them he is considering for his PhD.
“The absorption of information is no problem for Laurent,” said his father.
“I think the focus will be on research and applying the knowledge to discover new things.”
While Laurent is evidently able to learn faster than most, his parents are being careful to let him enjoy himself too.
“We don’t want him to get too serious. He does whatever he likes,” said Alexander. “We need to find a balance between being a child and his talents.”
Laurent said he enjoys playing with his dog Sammy and playing on his phone, like many young people.
However, unlike most 9-year-olds, he has already worked out what he wants to do with his life: develop artificial organs.
In the meantime, Laurent has to finish his bachelor’s degree and choose which academic institution will play host to the next stage in his remarkable journey.
Before that, he plans on taking a vacation to Japan for an undoubtedly well-deserved break.
New award to honor arts and activism named after Lena Horne
Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem
Two gangbangers aimed their BMW like a missile at a father and his 8-year-old son on a Harlem sidewalk in a horrifying incident captured by video distributed by police Thursday.
The BMW — driven by a man police believe is a member of the Gorilla Stone Bloods Gang — was zeroed in on the father, a rival gang member, said cops.
Around 3:45 p.m. Nov. 6, the boy and his father were walking on W. 112th St. by Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. when the BMW jumped the sidewalk and slammed into them both, said cops.
🚨WANTED for ASSAULT: on 11/6 at approx 3:43 PM in front of 128 West 112th St in Manhattan, a 32 yr old male was walking with his 8 yr old son when a white BMW jumped the curb & hit the father & son. The driver then got out and slashed the father. Call @NYPDTips with any info. pic.twitter.com/cwd79rcM4c
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) November 15, 2019
Father and son were both knocked through a gate.
The BMW driver then backed up — and its driver and passenger, also believed to be a gang member, jumped out of the car and ran toward the father and the son.
One of the attackers slashed the father, identified by sources as 32-year-old Brian McIntosh, who’s served prison time for robbery and bail jumping.
McIntosh and his son went to Harlem Hospital. Miraculously, the boy escaped serious harm.
McIntosh was so adamant about refusing to help police catch his attackers that the young boy’s mother had to file a police report alleging he was the victim of a crime, police sources said.
Cops released video of the attack, and ask anyone with information about the suspects to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.
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