This past Wednesday, The Department of Justice (DOJ) wrote in a brief to the Supreme Court that the 1964 Civil Rights Act federal workplace protections do not apply to transgender employees, arguing it is legal to discriminate based on gender identity. The DOJ submitted this brief as the Supreme Court decides if it will hear an appeal of a 6th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that the Civil Rights Act does protect transgender employees from discrimination in the workplace.
In March, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a funeral home in Detroit violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act when they fired their funeral director after she announced her transition. The judge ruled that “discrimination on the basis of transgender and transitioning status is necessarily discrimination on the basis of sex.”
An amicus curiae brief was filed to the Supreme Court on behalf of sixteen states as well, arguing that the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals misconstrued the word sex in the Civil Rights Act, instead interpreting Title VII in a way Congress never meant for it to be implemented.
The DOJ brief was filed only days after it was reported that the Trump administration may change the definition of “gender” to attack civil rights for transgender individuals. The Trump Administration is planning to establish under Title IX a strict definition of sex as unchangeable and assigned at birth based on genitalia. Under their plan, any dispute would require a person to undergo genetic testing. This rule would disregard the lives of 1.4 million Americans who currently identify themselves with a sex that does not match that of their birth certificate.
LGBT+ advocates across the country have been demonstrating against the Trump Administration’s and DOJ’s actions this past week.
Media Resources: The Hill 10/24/18; Feminist Newswire 10/22/18