Trans People Aren’t Protected From Discrimination, Declares Sessions

While it’s only been 18 months since President (then candidate) Donald Trump said Caitlyn Jenner could use any Trump Tower bathroom she wants, this as an act of good will toward the transgender community, the Trump administration has been nothing but hostile toward trans citizens since taking over the Oval Office.

The latest assault comes via Jeff Sessions. The attorney general just issued a new memo declaring that the Department of Justice would reverse federal policy that previously dictated that transgender employees are protected from being discriminated against at work.

“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,” reads Session’s directive. 

Moreover, Sessions made it crystal clear that the Trump administration will actively defend this new position in all future court cases, with the DOJ vowing to take the side of employers who are sued by transgender workers after being fired or harassed.

Back in 2014, Attorney General Eric Holder took a radically different stance from Sessions, saying that transgender people were protected under civil rights law. His argument at the time made a lot of sense:

“The most straightforward reading of Title VII is that discrimination ‘because of… sex’ includes discrimination because an employee’s gender identification is a member of a particular sex, or because the employee is transitioning, or has transitioned, to another sex.”

While the DOJ will certainly succeed at making life more difficult for transgender people by taking this stance, it’s also setting itself up to lose in court. Courts have repeatedly reaffirmed Holder’s reading of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and there’s no reason to believe that judges will change their minds just because Sessions wants to suddenly interpret the law differently.

Speaking to Buzzfeed, Sharon McGowan, a former civil rights lawyer for the DOJ, said, “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.”

Sessions is pretending that his hands are tied in this instance. Because the law does not specifically reference transgender issues, the DOJ contends it cannot possibly enforce protections for transgender people – never mind the extensive precedent that says protecting trans rights is a fair interpretation of existing law.

That also wouldn’t explain why the DOJ seems so gung-ho to defend in court employers’ “rights” to discriminate against transgender people, rather than remaining neutral.

Nevertheless, Sessions claimed, “The Justice Department must and will continue to affirm the dignity of all people, including transgender individuals.”

That might be more believable had Sessions not already rescinded a rule protecting transgender students the right to use the school restroom with which they identify – or if the Trump administration hadn’t hastily decided to ban transgender people from serving in the military.

To that latter point, the Trump administration argued on Wednesday – almost incredulously – that a lawsuit attempting to block the White House’s impending transgender ban should be dismissed because they haven’t put the plan into effect yet. That’s not really how the law works, though, which is all the more proof that Sessions and the DOJ are putting an agenda before a strict adherence to the law.

Let’s encourage Sessions to drop this nonsense before he goes too far. Sign this Care2 petition imploring him to stand up for the rights of transgender Americans.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

80 comments

Elaine W
Elaine Wyesterday

Well, sorry, but I am prejudiced against small narrow persons like Sessions.

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Wanda V
Wanda V5 days ago

Hurray for Jeff Sessions. Not that I would want to hurt someone who is mentally ill but neither do I think it's right to encourage their delusions. Men will always be men and women will always be women and mutilating their body won't change that. Jeff Sessions is exactly right in this and boys that FEEL like a girl should NOT be allowed to use women's and girl's private areas. That's just good common sense.

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Veronica Danie
Veronica D7 days ago

Thank you so very much.

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Veronica Danie
Veronica D7 days ago

Thank you so very much.

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Veronica Danie
Veronica D7 days ago

Thank you so very much.

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Marija M
Marija M8 days ago

Bill E., thanks.

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Marija M
Marija M8 days ago

Live and let live!

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Bill E
Bill E8 days ago

This is the most racist, sexist government this nation has had in decades.

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Richard A
Richard A8 days ago

The only people that J. B. Sessions will protect are white, male, and proclaiming to be Christian. All else are subject to abuse under law as applied by the administration of the minority-elect president. (perhaps that should read - misapplied)

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Mark H
Mark H8 days ago

Spirit of the law....humans are humans, not the isolated culture stories your group tells itself.

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