Members of the Brandeis community gathered outside the Usdan Student Center for a Trans Rights Rally following a memo that was released by the White House.
The memo stated that “Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth. The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence,” according to a New York Times article.
If the law is passed, over 1.4 million Americans who have opted to recognize themselves as another gender from the one assigned at birth will not be federally recognized, according to the New York Times article.
Throughout the rally, the main organizer Charlie Atchinson ’21, called for the crowd to yell “we will not be erased” to empower not only the ralliers but also let passer byers and other members of the Brandeis community know that transgender people will not be erased.
“I read the article that the New York Times released, and I knew I needed to do something,” Atchinson told The Brandeis Hoot in an email. “I was and am completely unwilling to lose my rights as a human being without a fight.” Atchinson said organizing the rally was an act of “passion, fear and anger.”
“Trans people are people, and they deserve to be acknowledged and protected on every level that they can possibly be acknowledged and protected,” said Atchinson to The Hoot. “The rally was just an extension of that.”
Along with Atchinson, Richard Weiner ’21, Jared Bour ’21 and Ryan Mishler, the program administrator of the Gender and Sexuality Center (GSC), all spoke at the rally.
Weiner spoke about life as a Jewish and transgender individual. They highlighted the belief that “no matter who tries to erase them, that they will be here.”
Bour served as the accessibility advocate at the rally. During their speech, Bour signed their entire speech for those who may have been hard of hearing. When the event was being organized, they wanted to make sure those who have disabilities were still able to participate in the rally.
Chairs were set up near the back of the rally for those who were disabled to have the opportunity to sit if they could not stand for long periods of time. Bour wanted to include this at the event when it was being planned because of their personal experiences. “I have chronic pain in my legs, feet and back,” explained Bour in an email to The Hoot. “As well as ADHD, so I consider myself both physically and developmentally disabled.”
In their speech at the rally, Bour spoke about the intersection of the transgender and disability communities. They recalled how at multiple Pride Parade events they have attended, disabled participants were not given any places to sit if they could not stand and were often required to walk long distances with the parade without any breaks.
Mishler spoke of all the resources that the GSC has for students, faculty and staff at Brandeis. “No memo, no law can erase trans people or outline our experiences,” Mishler reaffirmed in their speech. “The trans community has been here long before Donald Trump, and we’ll be here long after he leaves.”
GSC will be celebrating Trans Awareness Week Nov. 12 to Nov. 16.