Jeff Sessions Says Civil Rights Act Doesn’t Protect Trans Workers From Discrimination

By Kenrya Rankin Oct 06, 2017

On Wednesday (October 4), Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a memo to U.S. attorneys offices telling them that, in his estimation, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not prohibit employment discrimination based on gender identity.

As CNN reports:

Sessions states that “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.”

“This is a conclusion of law, not policy,” Sessions said, adding that the department will take this new position in all “pending and future matters.”

Sessions’ memo rescinds a 2014 memo issued by then-attorney General Eric Holder that concluded that Title VII does protect transgender people. From that original memo:

After considering the text of Title VII, the relevant Supreme Court case law interpreting the statute, and the developing jurisprudence in this area, I have determined that the best reading of Title VII’s prohibition of sex discrimination is that it encompasses discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status. The most straightforward reading of Title VII is that discrimination “because of … sex” includes discrimination because an employee’s gender identification is as a member of a particular sex, or because the employee is transitioning, or has transitioned, to another sex.

The National Center for Transgender Equality is pushing back against Sessions’ analysis of the law. Executive director Mara Keisling issued the following statement regarding the memo:

The Trump/Pence Administration is determined to promote discrimination through a false view of the law that has been rejected again and again by the courts. According to Sessions, an employer is free to hang a “Transgender Need Not Apply” sign in their window. Fortunately, he is dead wrong on the law. Neither President Trump nor Jeff Sessions can change the law, but they are determined to sow confusion and put their seal of approval on discrimination.

The attorney general does not get to make law, but he should at least read it. Simply: he is once again abdicating his responsibilities to enforce the law. Courts have repeatedly ruled that transgender people are protected by sex discrimination laws in employment, education, housing and healthcare. We’ll see him in court.

Read the memo here, courtesy of CNN.