44 Senators Push Back Against Jeff Sessions’ Exclusion of Transgender People from Title VII

By Shane Stahl • November 3, 2017 • 6:25 pm

Friday morning, 44 Senators submitted a signed letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, demanding that he reinstate the White House’s longstanding official recognition that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, also prohibits discrimination based on gender identity.

“Actions that roll back the rights of LGBTQ Americans are not consistent with the values of equality and dignity or with Congress’s goals in passing the Civil Rights Act,” the letter from the Senators reads.

In early October Attorney General Sessions announced the policy change that reinterpreted Title VII to exclude transgender people, saying that discrimination based on gender identity and expression were not barred under the Civil Rights Act.

Attorney General Sessions wrote, “Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination encompasses discrimination between men and women, but does not encompass discrimination on gender identity per se, including transgender status.”

Recent actions by the Trump administration have further chipped away at protections for transgender people. Perhaps most prominent was the President’s August executive order banning transgender people from serving “in any capacity” in the U.S. armed forces. On October 30, a judge in the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia temporarily halted the policy from taking effect saying she found the ban to be suspect and possibly unconstitutional.

The Senators continued in their letter today:

“By reversing the Department’s enforcement of Title VII on behalf of transgender people, you are sending a signal that DOJ will now condone and defend those who discriminate on the basis of an individual’s gender identity or history of gender transition.”

Currently, 18 states and 200 cities have passed inclusive non-discrimination laws that comprehensively and explicitly protect LGBTQ people in housing, employment, and public accommodations.

Follow all pending state and federal cases regarding non-discrimination protections using our Litigation Tracker.

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