Oct 5, 2017

Sessions reverses transgender worker protection policy

Photo: Susan Walsh / AP

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a memo to heads of federal agencies and attorneys reversing "a federal government policy that said transgender workers were protected from discrimination," according to BuzzFeed News, which obtained the memo.

  • Sessions wrote: "Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity per se." He added that nothing in the memo "should be construed to condone mistreatment on the basis of gender identity."
  • Devin O'Malley, Department of Justice spokesman, said in a statement to Axios: "The Department of Justice cannot expand the law beyond what Congress has provided...the last administration abandoned that fundamental principle.
  • DNC spokesman Joel Kasnetz responded: "This week, Jeff Sessions escalated the Trump administration's war on LGBTQ people...Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and Jeff Sessions have revealed their real goal – turn the clock back to a time when life was even more difficult for LGBTQ people, transgender individuals in particular."

Why it matters: Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act "prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex," per BuzzFeed, but "does not address LGBT rights directly." Former Attorney General Eric Holder applied it to gender identity, but Sessions said it "only covers discrimination between 'men and women,'" BuzzFeed reports.

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