Attorney General Jess Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed a federal government policy yesterday that clarified that transgender people are protected from sex discrimination in the workplace under Title VII.

In a memo obtained by Buzzfeed, Sessions wrote, “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.

“Although federal law, including Title VII, provides various protections to transgender individuals, Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity per se. This is a conclusion of law, not policy. As a law enforcement agency, the Department of Justice must interpret Title VII as written by Congress.”

James Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT & HIV Project, issued the following statement:

“Today marks another low point for a Department of Justice, which has been cruelly consistent in its hostility towards the LGBT community and in particular its inability to treat transgender people with basic dignity and respect.

“This Department of Justice under Jeff Sessions has time and time again made it clear that its explicit agenda is to attack and undermine the civil rights of our most vulnerable communities, rather than standing up for them as they should be doing.

“Discrimination against transgender people is sex discrimination, just as DOJ recognized years ago. We are confident that the courts will continue to agree and will reject the politically driven decision by Attorney General Sessions.”

Kris Hayashi, executive director of Transgender Law Center, said, “The Department of Justice memo on Title VII tries to undo established law protecting transgender employees simply by wishing it so. This is a vicious action intended to cause confusion where there was none, with the goal of singling out transgender people and making it harder for us to survive and thrive in this country.”

— David Taffet