The Obama administration is moving
forward with federal guidelines to protect transgender workers, the
New York Times reported.
The new protections are still a couple
of months away, but the administration confirmed Tuesday the
groundbreaking nondiscrimination rules will be included in an updated
federal handbook for managers and supervisors.
Last week, President Obama signed an
executive order extending a handful of benefits for the spouses of
gay and lesbian federal workers, but stopped short of including
pension and health care benefits. The memorandum also directs the
Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to update federal guidelines
within the next 90 days.
The National Center for Transgender
Equality, a transgender rights group, announced last week that OPM
officials had confirmed to them that the new guidelines would include
“[I]t is … clear from our ongoing
work with the administration … that it is their intention and
commitment that the OPM guidance to be issued in the next 90 days
will provide real, robust and meaningful protections for transgender
federal employees and job applicants,” the group said in a
“The president is making a very clear
statement that transgender people won't be discriminated against,”
Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for
Transgender Equality, told the paper.
While the president signed the gay
federal benefits memo in a very public Oval Office ceremony,
officials have been less forthcoming about the new transgender
provisions, possibly in an attempt to mollify criticism.
Gay groups have criticized
the new federal benefits as too little, too late, while social
conservatives decried the measure as approximating marriage.
The president's memo “appears to be a
violation of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and clearly violates
the spirit of the federal law which defines marriage as the legal
union of one man and one woman as husband and wife,” Tony Perkins,
president of the Family Research Council, said in a statement. “[It]
uses taxpayer money to placate an angry portion of his base at the
expense of the rule of law. Ironically, Mr. Obama has pursued an
aggressive pro-homosexual agenda – but his actions to date are,
apparently, insufficient for the radical homosexuals pushing their
“Barack Obama's order … attempts to
elevate relationships outside of marriage as if they are the same as
marriage,” Concerned Women for America President Wendy Wright said
in a statement. “Federal funds should not be a political tool to
elevate partner arrangements to be treated similar to marriage.”
OPM Director John Berry, the
administration's highest-ranking openly gay official, denied the
administration and his department were attempting to conceal its work
on the transgender protections.
“There's been no attempt to hide or
be coy,” he told the New York Times Tuesday.
“I was aware coming into this job
that this was a class of people for whom it was not clear that they
were protected from discrimination, and I thought it was an
opportunity to clarify that,” he said.
“[T]hey [transgender people] deserve
to be treated with respect and dignity,” Berry added.