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Loretta Lynch: Ending Transgender Discrimination About 'Fundamental Fairness'

Loretta Lynch: Ending Transgender Discrimination About 'Fundamental Fairness'

loretta lynch

The U.S. Attorney General called the issue a matter of "funadmental fairness."

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch spoke out against transgender discrimination during an interview with BuzzFeed Friday.

In the interview, she showed concern for transphobic legislation making its way through states such as North Carolina and Mississippi, which have both passed laws this year that target the trans community. "Our transgender family members and friends are also incredibly vulnerable to discrimination, in terms of the laws that we see, but also to abuse," she said.

"We decided over 200 years ago that we wanted to be an inclusive society, and we wanted to guarantee equal rights for all," she told BuzzFeed's Chris Geidner. She went on to explain her position:

"For that to mean something, we have to be careful, we have to be vigilant, so that when people, for whatever reason, are either [made to] feel like they're on the outside -- a particular group -- or are placed on the outside, that that doesn't happen. And transgender issues are no different, to me, in that regard."

President Obama's administration -- including and especially the Department of Justice, which Lynch has led for the past year -- has increasingly intrepreted existing bans on sex-based discrimination to include prohibitions on discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. These LGBT-inclusive interpretations of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex-based discrimination in education, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which offers the same kind of nondiscrimination protections in the workplace, have been affirmed by several federal courts in recent years.

Lynch told BuzzFeed she was "very gratified" to see a federal appeals court last month side with a transgender high school student in Virginia who is seeking the right to use the school restroom that matches his gender identity. Lynch's DOJ had filed a brief in support of that student's request for equal access.

When it comes to the issue of workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, however, Lynch was cagey. In March, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed two landmark cases arguing that sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace is prohibited under Title VII, though a final decision has yet to be handed down.

"We're looking at that issue, also, and we'll definitely come to a conclusion soon as to what position to take," Lynch told BuzzFeed. "But I think that overall, the position -- on a whole host of issues -- should always be toward inclusion and equality."

Lynch also spoke about the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in 2009 as a response to targeted attacks against LGBT people. "But then, this to me is all a part of the whole: If we're going to have the view that we're going to protect everyone in this society equally, we have to mean it," she told the website.

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