U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has
concluded that a 1964 federal civil rights law does not protect
transgender employees from discrimination.
In a memo issued Thursday to all
federal prosecutors, Sessions asserts 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 “conclusion of law, not policy”
will be the department's position in all “pending and future
Department of Justice spokesperson
Devin O'Malley said in a statement that “The Department of Justice
cannot expand the law beyond what Congress has provided.”
“Unfortunately, the last
administration abandoned that fundamental principle, which
necessitated today's action. This department remains committed to
protecting the civil and constitutional rights of all individuals,
and will continue to enforce the numerous laws that Congress has
enacted that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual
orientation,” O'Malley said.
Former Attorney General Eric Holder had
reached the opposite conclusion.
Mara Keisling, executive director of
the National Center for Transgender Equality, said in a statement
that Sessions is “dead wrong on 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,” Keisling said.