Transgender community loses protection against discrimination in the workplace

Transgender rights are human rights - Protest in NYC

People protest U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement that he plans to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals from serving in any capacity in the U.S. military, in Times Square, New York City, July 26, 2017 -  © 2017 Reuters


Last week, transgender people lost certain civil rights that protected them against discrimination at work. How did this happen? Attorney General Jeff Sessions determined that “sex” discrimination only refers to a person's biological sex (male or female) and does not apply to gender identity. This means that you’re only protected against discrimination at work based on the gender of your birth certificate and not the gender you may identify with instead, leaving transgenders unprotected.


Back in 2014, the Attorney General under President Obama had a different interpretation of “sex” discrimination. He referred to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits any employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. He then said that sex discrimination includes gender and gender identity, protecting vulnerable transgender people in the workplace.


"Today marks another low point for a Department of Justice, which has been cruelly consistent in its hostility towards the LGBT community and in particular its inability to treat transgender people with basic dignity and respect." ~ James Esseks, director of the ACLU's LGBT & HIV Project


This latest shift means the Justice Department will no longer side with transgender people in workplace discrimination lawsuits that call upon the Civil Rights Act. That’s one less protection for a population that faces enough hardship and discrimination in their daily lives.


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