On October 5, the U.S. Department of Justice reversed an Obama-era ruling that protected transgender employees from discrimination. All U.S. attorneys and federal officials were informed via a memo that individuals are not guaranteed protections based on gender identity under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Title VII bars private and government employers from discriminating against employees or job candidates based on their sex. In 2014, Eric Holder — the attorney general under President Barack Obama — announced his official interpretation of the statute as including a person’s gender identity.
Now, the Justice Department says Holder’s translation of the law was erroneous in extending protections to individuals who are transgender. According to a department spokesperson, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ interpretation of Title VII refers only to biological sex.
This decision is the latest in a series of attempts by the Trump administration to overturn civil rights policies enacted under Obama, including a resolution allowing openly transgender soldiers to serve in the U.S. armed forces. President Donald Trump announced in August that he was reversing that policy, leading several LGTBQ advocacy groups to file lawsuits attempting to block the president’s ban on transgender troops.— a measure that is set to take effect in March of 2018.
Many legal experts believe the Trump administration’s most recent reversal of protections for transgender employees will make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.