Jeff Sessions Wants to Gut Transgender Worker Protections Without Anyone Thinking He Wants That

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Trump administration Attorney General/Man Who Permanently Killed Our Appetite for Keebler Products Jeff Sessions has made yet another decision on how the law should be interpreted, and he wants to make it very clear that this isn’t because he’s a bigot who transparently hides behind “letter of the law” excuses.

This time around, Sessions has decided that the Justice Department will no longer stick up for trans people in the face of discrimination under the Civil Rights Act, because it doesn’t specifically mention trans people. Forget plenty of legal precedent and reasonable interpretations of law that are normally the foundation of decisions like these! Jeff Sessions, myopic crusader for the literal, is here to save everyone from the dangers of interpreting anti-discrimination law in a way that protects people from discrimination.

According to a memo from Sessions to government agencies and U.S. attorneys, obtained by BuzzFeed, the AG wrote, “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.”

That’s Title VII of the Civil Rights Act he’s talking about, which doesn’t mention sexual orientation or gender identity, but does specifically mention discrimination based on sex, which any reasonable Justice Department official, lawyer, or judge would interpret to protect trans people—unless they didn’t want to do so. Sessions insists that’s not the case, continuing, “The Justice Department must and will continue to affirm the dignity of all people, including transgender individuals. Nothing in this memorandum should be construed to condone mistreatment on the basis of gender identity, or to express a policy view on whether Congress should amend Title VII to provide different or additional protections.”

To translate: “Please don’t extrapolate my obvious motives. It would ruin my Very Sneaky Plan.” This is nothing new for the Trump administration, after rolling back protections for trans students and arguing, uninvited, that employers can fire employees for being gay on similarly narrow interpretations of the law—not to mention joining in the fight to allow businesses to discriminate against people based on sexual orientation. It’s just another lie in a series of lies. If Sessions actually wants trans people to be protected, there’s nothing stopping him from continuing on interpreting the law in a way that’s widely accepted, as had been done under President Obama.

Sure, it would be great if Congress would amend the law in this area to be more specific, so that exactly this kind of stunt would be impossible to pull, but even a sociopathic effort to force Congress’ hand is not Sessions’ goal. He knows it’s not going to happen, and in the meantime, he’s trying to rollback the legal protection that had been afforded by other branches of the government reasonably doing their jobs.

(via BuzzFeed, image: Mark Reinstein/Shutterstock.com)

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Dan Van Winkle
Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct <em>Geekosystem</em> (RIP), and then at <em>The Mary Sue</em> starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at <em>Smash Bros.</em>