Some 1.4 million Americans officially recognize themselves as a gender other than the one they were born into, and the Obama administration recognized this cultural shift by repealing the military's ban on transgender troops and by requiring public schools to allow transgender students to use whatever bathroom they choose.
In response, Danica Roem, the first openly transgender member of the Virginia House of Delegates, tweeted a link to the Times report and wrote: "Singling out and stigmatizing your transgender constituents isn't just the antithesis of constituent service; it's unsafe and gets us killed".
The draft memo obtained by the Times and circulated by HHS since spring erases the difference between sex and gender identity, saying that "sex means a person's status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth".
The Obama administration recognized transgender people under Education Department's Officer for Civil Rights director Catherine Lhamon, who rejects the proposal, which "quite simply negates the humanity of people", she told the Times.
It could also exclude the transgender population from civil rights protections.
The Trump administration is considering a biological definition of gender as determined at birth, which would reverse the recognition of individual choice developed under President Obama.
The Department of Health and Human Services told USA media it will not comment on alleged document leaks.
Transgender activists rallied in New York City last night after it was revealed that the Trump Administration is trying to redefine "gender".
The New York Times revealed Sunday that the Department of Health and Human Services is considering rolling back confusing Obama-era definitions of "sex" and "gender", in favor of scientifically accurate terms, so that government agencies charged with handling gender-based discrimination claims can operate more effectively.
"The court order remains in full force and effect today and HHS is abiding by it as we continue to review the issue", Roger Severino, director of the HHS Office for Civil Rights, said in a statement.
The report has generated an angry response from some people in and outside of the U.S., including swathes of the LGBTQ community.
"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.
The outcry on social media was swift.
Hollywood actress Susan Sarandon and Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness were among those who tweeted "trans rights are human rights" in support, while Juno-star Ellen Page described the proposal as "horrible" in an Instagram post.