Sessions Says Title VII Doesn't Protect Trans Workers

President Donald Trump's announcement that he plans to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals from servi

United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions has directed the Justice Department to reverse a federal policy protecting transgender workers from discrimination.

"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 Sessions' directive, which BuzzFeed News obtained.

In the memo laying out his decision, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded an Obama-era rule that had interpreted the Civil Rights Act to protect transgender workers.

"Although federal law, including Title VII, provides various protections to transgender individuals, Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity per se", Sessions writes.

As Buzzfeed News' Dominic Holden first reported, Sessions on Wednesday rescinded that government policy.

Transgender Law Center, in a press release, said, "The Department of Justice memo on Title VII tries to undo established law protecting transgender employees simply by wishing it so".

The department's policy shift was previewed in July when DOJ made similar argument in a lawsuit involving a skydiving instructor who said he was sacked after disclosing his sexual orientation to a customer.




Sessions wrote in a memo that a landmark 1964 civil rights law does not apply to gender identity, despite former President Barack Obama expanding that definition when he was in office.

"The text of Title VII, federal case law, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission all support interpreting and applying Title VII's prohibition on sex discrimination to cover the stark discrimination faced by transgender individuals", said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. As it stands, Title VII addresses discrimination on the basis of sex. "Nothing in this memorandum should be construed to condone mistreatment on the basis of gender identity, or to express a policy view on whether Congress should amend Title VII to provide different or additional protections".

"The Sessions DOJ is trying to roll back the clock and pretend that the progress of the last decade hasn't happened", McGowan added.

Sessions has made an apparent mission of dismantling LGBT protections since taking over the Justice Department.

"Unfortunately, the last administration abandoned that fundamental principle, which necessitated [the] action", the statement continued.

The reversal will inevitably be met with legal challenges from civil rights groups, and the ACLU has already vowed to fight it. Sessions's memo effectively strips Title VII of any important nuance-part of his attempt to help Trump make America great again via regressive policies and practices.

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