Sessions reverses DOJ policy on transgender employee protections

Kelvin Reese
October 6, 2017

As BuzzFeed and other outlets report, Sessions has reversed a USA government policy that says transgender workers are protected from discrimination by a civil rights law that's been on the books since 1964.

Proving the Dept. of Justice under Attorney General Sessions has no desire to support or even understand LGBT civil rights, a DOZJ spokesperson explained to Buzzfeed its reasoning for rescinding the 2014 memo protecting transgender workers.

"Title VII's prohibition on sex discrimination encompasses discrimination between men and women but does not encompass discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender status", Sessions reportedly wrote.

"Taking what we have learned since the program began in 2001, we have updated it and enhanced it, emphasizing the role of our U.S. attorneys, the promise of new technologies and, above all, partnership with local communities", Sessions said in a statement.

It's a new day, and with it comes another anti-LGBT action taken by a member of Donald Trump's administration. "As a law enforcement agency, the Department of Justice must interpret Title VII as written by Congress".

The position also ignores multiple circuit court rulings affirming transgender people are eligible for protections under Title VII.

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Transgender people have a high incident rate of employment discrimination. Four federal appellate courts - the First, Sixth, Ninth and Eleventh circuit courts of appeals - have determined employment discrimination against transgender people is barred under the law.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder initially amended Title VII in 2014, issuing a memo to all Department of Justice employees and U.S. attorneys that put forth a more nuanced interpretation of the half-century-old law.

"The Department of Justice can not expand the law beyond what Congress has provided", DOJ spokesperson Devin O'Malley said in a statement.

At issue is whether the 1964 law prohibits a narrow category of discrimination, against men and women who transgress against gender stereotypes, or a much broader category of discrimination, against people simply because they are transgender, gay, lesbian, or bisexual.

The move that could weaken legal protections for people already experiencing higher rates of biaswas announced by the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, in a memo dated Wednesday and obtained by BuzzFeed. "It demonstrates that this memo is not actually a reflection of the law as it is - it's a reflection of what the DOJ wishes the law were". Rather, it prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. "The Attorney General does not get to make law, but he should at least read it".

- Raul M. Grijalva (@RepRaulGrijalva) October 5, 2017Appalling assault on Title VII protections for trans workers.

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