Attorney General Eric Holder on
Thursday issued a memo stating that federal law explicitly prohibits
workplace discrimination against transgender people.
The Justice Department previously
suggested in litigation that transgender people were not covered by
Title VII, which bans sex discrimination.
Holder's memo clarifies the federal
government's position, which is that “sex” under Title VII
includes discrimination “because an employee's gender
identification is of a particular sex, or because the employee is
transitioning, or has transitioned to another sex.”
Ilona Turner, legal director at the
Transgender law Center, applauded the move in a statement.
“We are thrilled to see this clear
commitment from the Department of Justice on the issue of transgender
rights,” she said. “No longer will our government be arguing
that transgender people are excluded from the protections of the law.
This announcement will have far-reaching effects for transgender
people both within the federal workforce and beyond, influencing the
courts as well as other employers looking at their legal obligations
under Title VII. Our communities remain disproportionately
unemployed and living in poverty. Legal protections against
discrimination can make a real difference.”