Cornell will mirror national protests by showing support for transgender, nonbinary and gender nonconforming people on Monday, Nov. 5. The rally will take place at 4:30 p.m. on the steps outside Goldwin Smith Hall.
The rally is in response to a memo obtained by the New York Times in which the Trump administration’s Department of Health and Human Services said it is working to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX such that gender is “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.” Protest against this memo erupted on social media through the hashtag #WeWillNotBeErased, which the rally is named after.
“In a national climate that forces trans students to actively fear for the future of our health and safety, community commitment to supporting us through whatever comes next is what provides us with hope for the stability of our futures,” reads the Facebook page for the Cornell We Will Not Be Erased rally. “Show up for us and show us, Cornell, Ithaca, and the world that there is an army of people who know we are not going anywhere.”
According to the New York Times, the United States’ definitions of sex and gender, if established, will not recognize the identities of intersex people, transgender people, nonbinary people, gender nonconforming people and anyone whose gender identity falls outside the binary sex assigned to them at birth.
If the legal definition is altered to match the memo, it would affect 1.4 million Americans who have recognized themselves officially as a gender other than cisgender, according to the New York Times.
The 2012 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determined that “discrimination against an individual because of gender identity, including transgender status, or because of sexual orientation” is discrimination of sex, which violates Title VII. That year the United States Department of Justice adopted the same interpretation, but in 2017, it stopped using the interpretation.
The 2014 Executive Order 13672 issued by Obama further supports the rights of individuals with gender identities other than cisgender, as it prohibits “discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”
The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, Violence Against Women Act and Hate Crime Statistics Act all prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity — including transgender, nonbinary and gender nonconforming identities.
According to the New York Times, harmful repercussion could include more obstacles in discrimination claims, increased difficulties accessing health care, and psychological and physical impacts on the mental health of people whose identities would be written out of existence.
The article also said the policy could heighten discrimination against transgender, nonbinary and gender nonconforming people attempting to enter the country if their identity documents do not match their gender assigned at birth. There could also be greater risks of assault and harassment for incarcerated individuals after being placed into prisons that do not correspond with their gender identities.
The rally will be in support of those whose identity would be legislatively erased if the discussed legislation is passed and in protest of the current administration further revoking the rights of anyone with a gender identity other than cisgender.