Trump Administration Erases Key Guidelines for Transgender Federal Employees
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has removed from its website nondiscrimination guidelines meant to protect the rights of transgender federal employees.
OPM’s website on “Gender Identity Guidance” formerly outlined respectful treatment of transgender employees of the federal government, including actions around restrooms, name changes, respectful language, and dress codes.The current version of the website, updated some time this week, removed much of that language—including any mention of the word “transgender”—and added that gender-specific job roles in the federal government should be assigned according to “biological sex,” echoing language from a Trump administration memo leaked to The New York Times in October of this year.
As justification, the website cites an October 2017 memo from the Department of Justice arguing gender identity is not covered under federal nondiscrimination employment law. Over the last two decades, most federal courts have ruled that Title VII does, in fact, protect employees from discrimination on the basis of their gender identity or expression.
The site still lists gender identity, however, as a protected class from discrimination in hiring. Executive Order 13672, signed by President Barack Obama in 2014, explicitly bans discrimination against LGBTQ employees and employment in the federal government, and rulings from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have also found that federal law protects transgender federal employees from discrimination.
News of the changes by OPM broke the day after Thanksgiving and the same day the administration attacked transgender servicemembers by asking the Supreme Court to subvert standard process and implement its ban against transgender people in the military.
Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, issued the following statement:
“All transgender workers should know this does not legalize discrimination and nobody can just fire them because of who they are. Instead, it’s a cowardly attempt to spread chaos and confusion throughout the federal government. The Trump administration is resorting to misinformation and distortion in an attempt to harm countless employees of the federal government, the nation’s largest employer. This administration is clearly doing everything in its power to undermine federal law and spread lies about the rights of transgender people.“