UI LGBTQ groups rally against Trump’s narrowing of gender

LGBTQ groups protested on the Pentacrest Thursday against the Trump administration’s move to legally define gender by biological birth traits.


Katie Goodale

Protesters during a transgender rights rally on the Pentacrest on Thursday Oct 25, 2018. Protesters gathered to promote rights in light of the upcoming elections.

Andy Mitchell, News Reporter

University of Iowa LGBTQ groups say they are frustrated with the Trump administration’s moves narrowing the legal definition of gender.

Over the weekend, a leaked memo reported by the New York Times detailed a proposal that would, if implemented, define individuals as male or female based only on their observed biological traits at birth.

A public protest against the proposal took place on the Pentacrest on Thursday. Speakers with prepared texts addressed the crowd members, and they also heard stories from the audience. Some protesters carried signs saying “trans rights are human rights” and “the future is nonbinary.” Some arrived at the protest wearing the transgender pride flag.

“I will not be erased,” A.J. King, the president of the UI Trans Alliance, told the cheering crowd. “This is another episode in a long history of discrimination and resistance.”

King’s and Spectrum UI Outreach Director Alex Bare’s call to action for the Iowa City transgender community and allies, revolved around the ballot box, making informed choices about whom they vote for this November.

“If you care about trans issues, vote out people who don’t,” King said.

RELATED: UI Trans Alliance aims to create inclusiveness on campus, by organizing events for Trans Week of Actions

Previously, the Trump administration has also pushed to ban transgender people from serving in the military and challenged protections for transgender people under the current health-care law.

Bare said such a decision could damage how universities can protect their transgender students from discrimination and hate crimes.

“It’s upsetting considering the trans community within the umbrella that is the LGBTQ demographic [that] we still see the most social pressure against,” Bare said. “These issues go much deeper than policy.”

Bare said Spectrum UI let the UI Trans Alliance decide the best way to respond to the memo.

King said he was more concerned about the implications of the memo more than the possibility of the proposal being enacted.

“The fact that it’s even an idea is frightening,” King said. “Imagine if you were a kid, and this was your first exposure to how the government sees transgender people.”

After the story broke, King said, he spent time processing and researching what the proposal would do if enacted.

“It’s disappointing, and I’m worried for my community,” King said.

The Trans Alliance offers biweekly meetings that King encouraged members of the trans community to attend to ask questions and vent if needed.

In an email to The Daily Iowan, UISG Sen. Colin Lakadat said, “Once hearing about this situation, it truly breaks my heart. Many of us think that we are past the days of stripping people of identities or attacking people’s rights, but apparently, that is not the case.”

In the email, Lakadat said Thursday’s rally is a perfect example of community members making their voices heard.

“For all LGBTQ+ people in my community, especially the trans community, you matter,” he said. “I know that many people, including me, will continue to fight with you every step of the way. We will not allow one person, one administration, or one heinous act set us back any further.”