Scroll To Top

We Need Protection From Dangerous Men Like Jeff Sessions


Attorney General Jeff Sessions is fundamentally incapable of seeing LGBTQ people as equals and is intent on dismantling our rights.

On Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed a Department of Justice policy clarifying that transgender people are protected from discrimination in the workplace under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This comes after innumerable anti-LGBTQ, antiworker proposals from this administration, and is disgraceful and mean-spirited. Aside from being a direct attack on transgender working people, this memo completely misrepresents case law and the trend federal courts have been following for years.

Five federal appeals courts and multiple district courts have found that Title VII's sex discrimination prohibition covers transgender working people. According to the courts, transgender discrimination is sex discrimination. In 2014, Attorney General Eric Holder -- an Obama appointee -- issued a memo making this interpretation official policy at the DOJ. It is this policy that Sessions overturned.

Because of this change in policy -- and to be clear, despite the ludicrous declaration of the attorney general, this is a decision based in policy, not law -- DOJ will take the position that Title VII does not protect transgender working people in all pending and future cases. This will have severe ramifications for transgender working people.

The biggest impact will be that any pending cases in which the federal government is involved, the DOJ will now likely switch positions and argue against the transgender worker in court. The DOJ's opinion carries a great deal of weight in federal courtrooms and federal circuit court rulings -- as well as the precedents they set -- are only applicable in the circuit in which the case is heard.

In other words, we could start seeing transgender working people lose their discrimination cases in court because the DOJ has taken a position against them.

The good news is that Jeff Sessions cannot unilaterally rewrite or reinterpret laws. As a former senator, he should know this. Congress makes our laws and the courts interpret them -- not the DOJ. Sessions would do well to read the Constitution and remember which branch of the government he works in now.

It's shameful and unconscionable for an attorney general to reverse course in protecting some of our most vulnerable citizens. Transgender people face extraordinary discrimination and harassment every day.

But it's all part of the Trump administration's plan to undermine LGBTQ equality. Could this administration make it any more clear they are coming after LGBTQ people?

A religious exemptions executive order that can be interpreted to allow discrimination against LGBTQ people, the appointment of scores of anti-LGBTQ administration officials, telling schools they don't have to let transgender students use the bathroom that best fits their gender identity, telling the courts that Title VII doesn't cover sexual orientation discrimination, banning transgender people from serving in the armed forces, and now this decision are just the most egregious attacks on our community.

While Donald Trump has made it clear from the beginning that discrimination would be a cornerstone of his administration, now is the time to demand stronger legal protections. Laws like the Equality Act could not be reversed by a maniacal executive branch and would offer the protections LGBTQ people need in the workplace, in public accommodations, in jury service, and many other fields.

Transgender working people -- like all working people -- deserve the basic dignity and respect every citizen is entitled to in this country. This administration -- and particularly this attorney general -- is openly hostile to LGBTQ Americans and has shown it will ll go to any lengths to undermine the rights we fought so hard to achieve.

Jeff Sessions is fundamentally incapable of seeing LGBTQ people as equals. He has repeatedly undermined the integrity of the DOJ in order to press his anti-LGBTQ agenda. The DOJ exists to protect Americans rights -- justice is right there in the name, after all. Sadly, Jeff Sessions isn't up to the task.

JERAME DAVIS is the executive director of the organization Pride at Work. Follow him on Twitter @jerame.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Jerame Davis