Attorney General Jeff Sessions believes that transgender people do not qualify for civil rights protections against sexual discrimination, and to prove that, he has rescinded an Obama-administration decree that granted them such protections under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
BuzzFeed News obtained a copy of a memo Sessions sent to agency heads and U.S. attorneys Wednesday that said, “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.”
The memo said that the government is going to maintain this stance in both pending and future matters, which would indicate that any current discrimination claim in the process of being handled will likely be decided based on this new edict.
“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 wrote. “This is a conclusion of law, not policy. As a law enforcement agency, the Department of Justice must interpret Title VII as written by Congress.”
Sharon McGowan formerly worked as an attorney in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. She now works as a lawyer for the LGBT group Lambda Legal, and she told BuzzFeed News that Sessions is ignoring a widespread trend in federal courts.
“It’s ironic for them to say this is law and not policy,” McGowan said. “The memo is devoid of discussion of the way case law has been developing in this area for the last few years. It demonstrates that 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.
“The Sessions DOJ is trying to roll back the clock and pretend that the progress of the last decade hasn’t happened,” McGowan added. “The Justice Department is actually getting back in the business of making anti-transgender law in court.”
Sessions is reversing a memo issued by former Attorney General Eric Holder in 2014 that said: “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.”
According to BuzzFeed, Sessions said that he is withdrawing the Dec. 15, 2014, memo and wrote, “The Department of Justice will take that position in all pending and future matters (except where controlling lower-court precedent dictates otherwise, in which event the issue should be preserved for potential future review).”
Sessions added, “The Justice Department must and will continue to affirm the dignity of all people, including transgender individuals. 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.”
So if he is not condoning mistreatment on the basis of gender identity, then why remove the very protections that would keep that from happening?
None of this makes any sense.
Read more at BuzzFeed News.