A large demonstration wound through the University of Vermont campus Monday, standing up for transgender rights—one week after President Donald Trump indicated the future for transgender Americans is in flux.
“They have a lot of different things happening with respect to transgender right now,” President Trump told reporters last week. “You know that as well as I do. We’re looking at it very seriously.”
The president’s remarks came in response to a New York Times article.
The paper obtained a memo showing the administration’s thinking about narrowing the legal definition of gender, based on genitalia at birth—and making that definition unchangeable later in life to reflect how a person identifies.
“I’m protecting everybody,” Trump said, answering an NBC correspondent’s question about past promises to protect LGBT Americans. “I want to protect our country.”
Health and Human Services had no comment on the matter, saying it doesn’t comment on alleged leaked memos.
Many advocates for LGBT rights have said such a move from the federal government would appear to significantly blunt transgender protections and recognition from the Obama era.
“For me personally, it would be completely, completely devastating,” said Carter Shapiro, one of the organizers of the rally Monday at UVM. “It’s just a complete invalidation of who I am.”
Shapiro warned such a move would likely have “catastrophic” mental health impacts on transgender people.
“I think we’re looking for exactly what everyone else is,” UVM employee Ben Kennedy said in response to an necn question about what transgender people are seeking. “Equal protections under the law—access to equality, equity, health care, to education. We’re not asking for anything special, we’re just asking to be treated the same as everybody else.”
The protesters heard assurances from the University of Vermont’s president, Tom Sullivan.
“There is nothing more important that we can do at UVM but to ensure your safety, your health, your well-being, and your dignity,” Sullivan told the crowd of several hundred that gathered on campus.
But the group won’t stop there. They’re insisting they “won’t be erased,” promising to keep up the pressure in the face of any possible rollbacks at the federal level.