Nearly 1,000 people gathered outside the State House on Saturday and spoke with one voice: We will not be erased.

The rally, organized by many community groups, was designed to defy the Trump administration’s efforts to define gender as determined by genitalia at birth. The Obama administration broadened the legal concept of gender, recognizing it largely as an individual’s choice.

Now the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is trying to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive aid from the federal government.

At the State House, the crowd was a study in diversity, with parents supporting their transgender children; gay, cisgender men and women standing up for their transgender friends, and transgender individuals speaking on behalf of marginalized communities across the country.

The Rev. Donnie Anderson, a transgender woman who publicly transitioned this summer, drew some of the loudest cheers when she said, “I’m Donnie. I’m trans. I’m queer. And I’m going nowhere.”

Anderson, executive minister of the Rhode Island State Council of Churches, said, “After 69 years of confusion, dysphoria and shame, no one is going to erase me.”

There are members of the faith community who love and support transgender people, she said.

“I understand your anger and your hurt,” Anderson said. “Don’t let it ruin your life. Love is always stronger than hate.”

Ryan Welsh, the 2018 Mr. Gay Rhode Island, said there is not only power, but safety, in numbers.

 

“It’s important that we show ourselves,” he said. “I’m here to show support for a community that is under attack.”

Speaker after speaker described how their rights are being undermined by the Trump presidency.

Ethan Huckel said, “I don’t feel lucky today. I feel weary and anxious and emotionally drained.” But Huckel said the Trump presidency has become a rallying cry in the struggle to survive, and that struggle unites queer and transgender individuals.

Nora Kaplan, another speaker, said fascism is the common thread that links the hatred against transgender individuals and the mass murders of Jewish congregants in Pittsburgh last week.

“A central tenet of Judaism is to repair the world,” Kaplan said. “You don’t have to finish the task. But you can’t give it up.”

Payton James, a member of Rhode Island Pride, led the crowd in a chant that embraced every marginalized group.

“We won’t be erased!” James said.

 

“Indigenous trans people will not be erased,” James continued. “Black trans people will not be erased. Disabled trans people will not be erased. And people of color will never be erased.”

Ending a year and a half of uncertainty, the Rochester Institute of Technology is offering hormone therapy to transgender students.

The school had fired a doctor for providing the therapy, which helps transgender people’s physical characteristics align more closely with their gender identities, last year.

At the beginning of this year’s fall academic term, RIT said it would “offer a wider spectrum of care” for transgender students, “most notably the addition of gender affirming hormone therapy.”

The university said the decision came “after months of carefully listening and talking to students and experts.”

The school’s student newspaper, the Reporter, and the Democrat and Chronicle both reported on the saga that unfolded between the doctor’s dismissal and the formal decision to offer the therapy she was dismissed for providing.

Rochester’s Out Alliance communications director Rowan Collins said the university made the right decision, even if it was delayed.

“There needs to be a commitment to understanding and respecting everyone around us,” said Collins. “When it comes to the transgender community at RIT at this very second, one of their biggest needs for respect and understanding was this access to medical care.”

Hormone replacement is not just a physiological treatment, Collins said. “It enables transgender people to feel more comfortable in their own skin. It has mental and emotional components beyond just the physical manifestations.”

Collins said the biggest problem for transgender students who had been receiving the treatment was the abruptness with which it stopped. “All of a sudden, these students were left with no medical practitioner who was trained or even familiar with how to help them when it came to their medical transition,” he said.

Yards upon yards of the transgender pride flag draped the stairs of one of the country's most famous national monuments. On Monday, transgender activists unfurled the flag at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., to demonstrate against the Trump administration's record on transgender rights.

Organized by the National Center for Transgender Equality, the group shared photos of the protest on Monday in a tweet that stated, "We #WontBeErased, and we won't be forgotten, and we won't be ignored. Today, we worked with local advocates and community members to unfurl a 150-foot trans flag on some of our nation's most visible real estate: the Lincoln Memorial. Bustle has reached out to the National Center for Transgender Equality for comment.

The protest came a week after The New York Times reported that it reviewed a draft memo from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). According to the newspaper, the department had proposed to restrict the definition of gender to pure biology, defined according to the genitalia they have at birth. The publication also noted that such a definition would "essentially eradicate federal recognition" for the transgender community in the United States.

The HHS' memo proposed pushing for a legal definition of sex to the Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, according to The Times. The federal law forbids federally-funded educational programs and institutes from discriminating on the basis of sex.

Politicians have roundly criticized the potential redefinition of gender under Trump's presidency. Among them was Massachusett Rep. Joe Kennedy III, who spearheads the House LGBT Equality Caucus' Transgender Equality Task Force.

"This nation's darkest days have always come when our government deemed civil rights conditional," he said in a statement to The Hill. "The Trump administration’s ongoing assault on transgender Americans betrays not just that history and not just the progress for which millions have bravely sacrificed, but our most fundamental responsibility to treat and see each other as human."

This won't be the first time that protesters used the transgender pride flag to make themselves heard. On Sunday, just one day before the Lincoln Memorial protest, people at a World Series game between the Red Sox and the Dodgers unveiled a large transgender pride flag that read, "Trans People Deserve to Live."

Although the flag was not a hundred feet long, it was large enough to have delivered its message across the massive Dodger stadium in Los Angeles. Baseball columnist Jeff Passan for Yahoo! Sports tweeted a photo of the flag.

Mayor Marty Walsh held a rally at Boston City Hall Plaza on Sunday in support of transgender rights.

A group of people turned out to share their views on question three, a referendum that would repeal a 2016 law that prohibits discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of gender identity.

Walsh said, “The fact that we are having this battle on the ballot is wrong. Love trumps hate.”

Proponents of the question hope to keep the existing law in place.

Opponents say state law is too vague when it comes to the definition of gender. They fear that criminals and sex offenders will be able to take advantage of these ambiguities and pose a safety risk to the public.

“This question is about equality in legislature,” Walsh said.

Young Roman Catholics attending an important Vatican meeting this month are demanding that bishops do more to make LGBTQ Catholics feel more welcomed ― while adhering to the global church’s conservative doctrine on sexuality.

The insistence on inclusion is coming from several young leaders chosen by the church to audit the Synod of Bishops, an annual Vatican assembly that advises the pope. The monthlong bishops’ conference, which began on Oct. 3, is days away from voting on a final document that has the potential to become official church teaching.

The young people told reporters during a Vatican press conference Friday that they’re hoping the final document includes language that clearly reaches out to LGBTQ Catholics and emphasizes a more loving, pastoral approach.

Yadira Vieyra, a 29-year-old auditor from Chicago, said that people in her English-language small group at the synod, one of 14 groups working with bishops on the final document, have been talking about how the church can minister to LGBTQ Catholics who often feel “attacked.”

“Oftentimes when ministered to in a poor manner, they feel like they are displaced and that the church doesn’t want them. We know that’s not true. Any Catholic knows that that is not true,” Vieyra said, according to the Catholic News Service (CNS).

Some of the small groups at the synod called for a specific section in the final document about the topic of sexuality. Each paragraph of the document must be approved by a two-thirds majority of bishops in order to be added to the final version, The Associated Press reports

Some bishops have already expressed resistance to the idea of reaching out to LGBTQ Catholics in this way, AP reports.

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput said that “there is no such thing as an ‘LGBTQ Catholic’ or a ‘transgender Catholic’ or a ‘heterosexual Catholic,’ as if our sexual appetites defined who we are,” the AP reports.

The welcome young Catholic leaders at the synod are demanding for LGBTQ Catholics does have a limit, however. Although they are calling for a more loving approach, the groups ultimately affirmed long-held church doctrine that considers queer relationships to be “intrinsically disordered.” 

“No one, on account of gender, lifestyle or sexual orientation, should ever be made to feel unloved, uncared for,” an English-language working group stated in a reflection published on Saturday, according to CNS. “However, as St. Thomas Aquinas specifies, love means ‘willing the good of the other.’ And this is why authentic love by no means excludes the call to conversion, to change of life.”

However — in America, at least — their views may not represent those of young Catholics as a whole. 

Most American Catholics between the ages of 18 and 29 believe it’s completely acceptable for a same-sex couple in a romantic relationship to be living together (63 percent), according to a 2015 survey from the Pew Research Center. Older generations are much less accepting of these relationships. 

In 2014, Pew found that the overwhelming majority of millennial Catholics believed gays and lesbians should be accepted by society (85 percent) and supported same-sex marriage (75 percent). 

Francis DeBernardo, executive director of the queer Catholic advocacy group New Ways Ministry, doesn’t believe the synod has been engaging with issues concerning LGBTQ Catholics in a meaningful way. In a blog, he wrote that for many of the synod attendees, there’s an underlying assumption that “welcoming” LGBTQ Catholics also means inviting them to change who they are, or agree to a life a celibacy.

“While it is very good that [bishops] are stressing a welcoming and accompanying approach to LGBT ministry, the prelates seem to downplay any controversial element of ministry to LGBT people,” wrote DeBernardo, who attended a Vatican press briefing on Saturday. “They speak in generalities and do not recognize the unique needs and gifts that LGBT people bring to the church.”

“While a welcoming approach is good and needed, it cannot be the last word,” he added.

 As young leaders chosen for the active roles they play in the church’s ministry, it’s unsurprising that the lay auditors are seeking to adhere to Catholic doctrine on sexuality.

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