Nancy Haque, director of Basic Rights Oregon, speaking at this mornings press conference.
Nancy Haque, director of Basic Rights Oregon, speaking at this morning's press conference. Doug Brown

Over the weekend, an internal White House memo obtained by the New York Times detailed the Trump administration's plan to narrow its definition of gender as either male or female, solely based on what genitals a person was born with. That definition would be unchangeable unless "rebutted by reliable genetic evidence."

The memo, which was first circulated this spring, does not say when this change could take place or what implications it could have on the transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming Americans.

But, according to Oregon lawmakers and legal experts, this memo does not put transgender Oregonians in danger—at least for now.

"This memo does nothing to undo Oregon's protections," said Mat dos Santos, legal director of the ACLU of Oregon, at a press conference this morning. "What it does is sow confusion, it sows heartbreak... It is strategically meant to undermine and attack the values Oregonians hold dear. But it does not change one word of legal precedent that comes out of our courts or out of our statehouses here in Oregon."

Dos Santos was joined by other LGBTQIA advocates at Portland's Basic Rights Oregon (BRO) offices to reassure the thousands of transgender Oregonians whose identities has already been threatened by the Trump administration.

Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek told reporters she has received numerous emails from constituents who are worried about the memo's vague, yet threatening, implications

"The new proposal redefining gender has put a lot of people in a very difficult spot," said Kotek. "But for those who right now are very scared about what this means, please know that my colleagues and I in the Oregon legislature will do everything we can do to protect you."

Kotek said the memo is not founded in science or medical facts and is "nothing more than fear-mongering."

Nancy Haque, director of Basic Rights Oregon, echoed Kotek's warning and linked the timing of the memo's leak to the approaching election.

"[The Trump] administration is cynically using our nation's lack of understanding about the lives and experiences of transgender people as an election year ploy," said Haque. "Oregonians know better than this."

Haque added a plug for Governor Kate Brown's reelection, saying that Brown is the only candidate looking out for Oregon's transgender community.

Yesterday, Brown tweeted a link to the NYT story, with the message: "I'll always fight to ensure Oregonians are allowed to be who they are, no matter how they identify." Brown's opponent, Republic Knute Buehler, has yet to comment on the latest Trump memo.