The Human Rights Campaign on Sunday called for the Trump administration not to go forward with a rollback of protections for transgender people, following a report in The New York Times on a draft proposal.

"Setting a destructive precedent, the Trump-Pence administration intends to erase LGBTQ people from federal civil rights protections and eviscerate enforcement of non-discrimination laws," the group's president, Chad Griffin, said in a statement.
HRC is among the nation's most prominent LGBTQ rights groups, and its statement Sunday called on Congress to pass legislation enshrining protections it says are at threat should the Trump administration go forward with the reported plan.
 
The Times report said the Department of Health and Human Services is working to define sex under Title IX as solely male or female at birth, with no room for change. The proposal could formally be presented to the Justice Department by the end of the year, sources told the Times.
"Sex means a person's status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth," the proposal says, according to The Times.
The move, if made and followed through in coordination with other key federal departments, would mark a major shift for transgender rights under the law and reverse course from the Obama administration, which expanded the legal concept of gender in several instances to recognize gender identity did not always match one's sex as determined at birth.
 
Vanita Gupta, head of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said in a statement on Sunday that the proposal "defies the medical community, science, civil rights laws, the courts and the dictates of human decency."
Gupta worked in the Justice Department's civil rights division during the Obama administration, and in her statement, said civil rights groups would use "every tool" they could to counter the reported Trump administration move.
The report published Sunday said the new definition, if adopted, would erase federal recognition for the many Americans who identify as a gender different than the one they were identified with at birth. It also said the move would be relevant in particular to a pair of proposed rules, one from the Education Department on sex discrimination at schools and colleges and another at HHS on health programs that receive federal funding.
HHS spokesperson Caitlin Oakley declined to comment to CNN "on alleged leaked documents," and a statement from Roger Severino, the head of HHS' office of civil rights, said HHS was following a court order blocking a rule on gender identity.
 
"A federal court has blocked HHS's rule on gender identity and termination of pregnancy as contrary to law and infringing the rights of healthcare providers across the country," Severino's statement said. "The court order remains in full force and effect today and HHS is abiding by it as we continue to review the issue."
The Times report said HHS has argued privately that sex should not include gender identity "or even homosexuality," and that the Obama administration was wrong to extend civil rights protections. It said additionally that HHS officials were looking to a 2016 federal court ruling on a provision of Obamacare, where Judge Reed O'Connor said, "Congress did not understand 'sex' to include 'gender identity.'"
The draft proposal would be one of the latest attempts to push back against Obama administration policies on gender identity and LGBT rights, much of which has come in contrast to President Donald Trump's pledge during his 2016 presidential campaign to be an ally to the LGBT community.
HRC described the news Sunday as "the latest effort in a consistent, multi-pronged campaign by the Trump-Pence White House over the past two years to undermine the rights and welfare of LGBTQ people."
"Defining 'sex' in this narrow language tailored to the talking points of anti-equality extremists is part of a deliberate strategy to eliminate federal protections for LGBTQ people," Griffin said.

LGBTQ groups on Sunday announced rallies and demonstrations in response to a recent New York Times report that indicated the Trump administration is planning to exclude transgender and nonbinary people from its legal definition of gender.

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), Lambda Legal, Human Rights Campaign and other LGBTQ advocacy groups are organizing demonstrations to take place in New York City on Sunday evening and in Washington, D.C., on Monday morning. 

Lambda Legal and LGBTQ advocacy group Voices 4 are set to hold a demonstration in New York City's Washington Square Park from 6-7:30 p.m., while the NCTE and Human Rights Campaign are organizing a rally to take place in front of the White House at 12:30 p.m. on Monday. 

The Washington, D.C., demonstration will take place after an 11 a.m. press conference by advocacy organizations hosted at the Human Rights Campaign's building. The organizations are still finalizing the roster of speakers. 

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said it doesn't comment on alleged leak documents. 

“A federal court has blocked HHS’s rule on gender identity and termination of pregnancy as contrary to law and infringing the rights of healthcare providers across the country," Roger Severino, the head of the office of civil rights at the agency, said in a statement to The Hill. "The court order remains in full force and effect today and HHS is abiding by it as we continue to review the issue.”

The White House did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment.

Trans and LGBTQ advocacy organizations have responded to the report with unequivocal denunciations throughout the day, saying a definition of gender that relies solely on biology would result in discrimination against trans and nonbinary individuals. 

"This proposal is an attempt to put heartless restraints on the lives of 2 million people, effectively abandoning our right to equal access to health care, to housing, to education, or to fair treatment under the law," the NCTE wrote in a press release on Sunday.

"This administration is willing to disregard the established medical and legal view of our rights and ourselves to solidify an archaic, dogmatic, and frightening view of the world," the organization added. "This transparent political attack will not succeed administratively, legally, or morally."

The groups are mobilizing in response to a Times report that found the Trump administration has proposed a legal definition of gender as determined "on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable."

The proposal would reportedly require DNA testing to resolve any disputes about a person's gender.

This could mean the millions of people who identify as transgender, or with a gender other than the one they are assigned at birth, would not be recognized as a legitimate group by the government. They would be excluded from civil rights protections under Title IX, the civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in educational settings.

The Obama administration adopted a definition of gender that recognized peoples' self-definitions of their identities. The proposed definition would roll back the former president's attempts to expand civil rights for transgender people. 

NCTE and Lambda Legal throughout Sunday promoted the hashtag #WontBeErased, encouraging transgender and gender nonconforming people to post photos of themselves in order to show that "transgender people can't be erased with a memo," NCTE wrote in a tweet.Lamba Legal's demonstration in Washington Square Park on Sunday will involve multiple high-profile speakers, including actress and advocate Sara Ramirez and American Civil Liberties Union attorney Chase Strangio.

"It’s deeply concerning that our federal government has chosen to disregard decades of existing law to push forward what are clearly ideologically-driven policy views about who transgender people are," Lambda Legal senior attorney Sasha Buchert told The Hill. 

"We've built protections in employment, education and healthcare for the past 25 years," Buchert added. "It’s completely out of step with the law ... It’s out of step with the medical consensus."

Buchert said Lambda Legal will be meeting with the Department of Education's civil rights office on Monday in a previously-planned meeting to discuss the ramifications for transgender students. 

"We’ll consider all options as soon as this rule is formulated and put forward," Buchert said, noting HHS has not made the proposal public yet. "It doesn’t change the law." 

Jazz Jennings is revealing that her recent gender confirmation surgery was not without its complications.

The star of TLC's "I Am Jazz," which documents her life as a trans teen, spoke with "Nightline" co-anchor Juju Chang for a segment that aired Monday. Jennings, 18, said she knew from a young age that she was a girl, though she was assigned male at birth.

"When I was 2 years old, I went up to my mom and asked her, 'When is the good fairy going to come with her magic wand and change my penis into a vagina?' " she said. 

In June, the reality star had gender confirmation surgery, but she said there were several challenges along the way. Prior to the operation, she had to shed 30 pounds, which she said was difficult.

"That was really, really challenging because I had an addiction to food," she said. "And it was something that gave me comfort. And I had to let that go because the surgery is so much more important to me than any slice of cake or pizza."

Jennings' use of puberty blockers meant doctors had to be innovative. 

"Being on the blockers is something that I don't regret at all," she said. "But the only, you know, downside to it was that I didn't have enough growth down below. 

"So there wasn't enough tissue to work with when it came to the surgery," she continued. "And it was very challenging to find a doctor, a surgeon who was willing to perform the operation on me just 'cause I'm such a difficult case."

"They’re using the tissue I have, the peritoneum, and also, they may take a skin graft as well," she explained. "I say it's going to be like a patchwork vagina, Franken-vagina. So yeah, as long as it's functional, that's all that matters."

 

Following her surgery, which reportedly took three surgeons nearly five hours, Jennings' recovery proved to be a bit challenging.

"There was just an unfortunate event and setback where things did come apart, and there was a complication," she said. "I had to come back in for another procedure, but it was just all part of the journey. The good thing though is that it was only cosmetic and external so it wasn’t too dramatic."

And it seems Jennings wouldn't change a thing. Reflecting on the day of her surgery, she recalled: "I woke up on the morning on the surgery, and I don't think I've ever been that happy in my entire life. It was just like pure, positive energy."

Following her surgery, Jennings' updated her fans on her recovery on Instagram. "i’m doing great," she captioned a photo of her beaming, "thanks for all of the love and support." 

More of Jennings' journey can be seen in the fifth season of "I Am Jazz," premiering Jan. 1 on TLC.

While progress in the fight to end homophobia has slowed, transgender and gender nonconforming youth face increasingly hostile school climate surveys, finds National School Climate Survey.

 

New York, NY, Oct. 15, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- GLSEN, the leading education organization working to create safe and inclusive schools for LGBTQ students, announced today new findings from the 2017 National School Climate Survey, showing for the first time in a decade that victimization of LGBTQ youth is not decreasing at rates previously seen -- and has, in fact, gotten worse for transgender and gender nonconforming youth.

“We’ve seen great progress on dismantling homophobia and transphobia over the past decade, and increasing access to LGBTQ-inclusive supports in K-12 schools. Unfortunately, in 2017, that continued progress has slowed, and in some cases, we see no change at all. Worse still, our findings indicate that many schools have become even more hostile towards transgender and gender nonconforming youth,” said Dr. Joseph Kosciw, GLSEN Chief Research & Strategy Officer. “The good news we continue to see is that LGBTQ youth have better mental health and academic outcomes in schools with supportive and inclusive policies, educators, curriculum, and student-led GSA clubs.”

Begun in 1999, the biennial National School Climate Survey has become the largest body of research on the experiences of LGBTQ youth in schools in the U.S., and examines indicators of negative school climate (biased remarks, victimization, and discrimination), the effects of school climate on student outcomes, and the availability and benefits of key school-based supports shown to improve the lives of LGBTQ youth. The 2017 National School Climate Survey is the largest and most geographically inclusive research sample ever of LGBTQ between 13 and 21 years of age, from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories, with 23,001 total survey respondents.

Among the many findings within the 2017 National School Climate Survey, are:

  • Overall in 2017, we see homophobic remarks and victimization leveling off, after years of measured improvements. Worse, we have seen a steady increase in youth reporting negative remarks about transgender people, and a recent upward trend in the frequency of staff making negative remarks about gender expression.
  • The vast majority of LGBTQ students (87.3%) experienced harassment or assault based on personal characteristics, including sexual orientation, gender expression, gender, religion, race and ethnicity, and disability. Seven in ten LGBTQ students (70.1%) experienced verbal harassment at school based on sexual orientation, more than half based on gender expression (59.1%) or gender (53.2%).
  • More than a third of LGBTQ students (34.8 %) missed at least one day of school in the last month because of feeling unsafe at school, and at least two in five students avoided bathrooms (42.7%) and locker rooms (40.6%).
  • The frequency of verbal harassment based on sexual orientation did not change from 2015 to 2017; however, physical harassment and assault based on sexual orientation did continue to decline in 2017.
  • The frequency of verbal harassment based on gender expression increased from 2015 to 2017, after years of decline, and there were no improvements in reports of physical harassment and assault based on gender expression from 2015 to 2017.
  • Hostile school climates negatively affect LGBTQ students’ mental health and educational outcomes. LGBTQ students who experienced high levels of anti-LGBTQ victimization were nearly twice as likely to report they do not plan to pursue post-secondary education. Also, LGBTQ students who experienced high levels of anti-LGBTQ victimization and discrimination had lower GPAs, lower self-esteem, and higher levels of depression.
  • School-based supports continue to have a positive effect on school climate. School staff supportive of LGBTQ students, GSAs, LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum, and comprehensive and supportive policies are all related to safer schools and better educational outcomes. Yet LGBTQ students report that most of these supports are not available to them.

GLSEN’s 2017 National School Climate Survey provides additional insights on the youth-led safe schools movement growing in the U.S. today, and specifically, the prevalence of social-political activism of LGBTQ youth, including participation in GSAs and GLSEN programs, like the Day of Silence, No Name-Calling Week, and Ally Week. The vast majority of LGBTQ students (80.2%) have engaged in social-political activism, such as advocating for safe schools online or policy change at school. LGBTQ students who participate in their student-led GSA at school are more likely to engage in activism than those who do not (91.0% vs. 74.7%).

“This report should serve as an alarm bell for advocates and a call to action for anyone who cares about students’ wellbeing,” said Eliza Byard, GLSEN Executive Director. “Fortunately, the evidence continues to show that key interventions are working to improve students’ lives. We must continue to push to see them implemented in more schools, and support students who are organizing to improve their communities. LGBTQ-affirming supports in our schools reduce violence, improve academic achievement, and help save lives. Who wouldn’t want LGBTQ youth to feel safe and do better in schools?”

For the first time, GLSEN’s National School Climate Survey also includes insights on student activism, parent advocacy, immigrant students, students with disabilities, and inclusive sex education.

The 2017 National School Climate Survey full report and executive summary, along with related infographics, can be downloaded from glsen.org/nscs.

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